Individual vision insurance is a specific insurance policy tailored to take care of the eyes. It provides for financial help to pay for routine eye exams, glasses, and contact lenses. It is a great policy for people who have poor eye sight and spend hundreds of dollars each month on eye care.
You can get either a group or an individual insurance policy. Group policies can be obtained through your company, or any other organization you work for. You can also obtain it through a government program such as Medicaid. Consult your company policy to know more about it.
If you want to purchase an individual policy (perhaps because you are self-employed, or your company does not offer individual vision insurance plans), you will be happy to know that most insurance providers sell separate policies for individuals.
Vision insurance is usually value added benefit to supplement a regular policy. It is available with both HMO (Heath Maintenance Organization) and PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) plans, and is contracted through a managed vision care network that provides eye care services.
As you may know already, in a HMO plan, you are obliged to take care from a select group of doctors, hospitals, and healthcare providers. It is a lot cheaper than PPO, but also a lot less flexible. A supplemental vision insurance policy under the HMO scheme limits your treatment option to a select group of care providers only.
The PPO scheme is a lot more flexible with fewer restrictions. Under this scheme, healthcare providers (doctors, hospitals, etc.) are contracted by the insurance company and receive a set fee for their work. The co-payment in PPO schemes is a lot higher (around 20% of the cost), but this is offset by the extra freedom.
It is obviously much more beneficial to get vision insurance under the PPO scheme, but the cost of such a policy can be quite restrictive. Your policy will usually cover the entire spectrum of eye care, such as routine eye exams by an ophthalmologist, eye tests done by an optometrist, eye surgeon, glasses, frames, and lenses, etc. The only difference is that with a PPO scheme, you are free to choose your providers, while under the HMO scheme, you will have to take up the doctor or eyewear store affiliated under the scheme.
Vision insurance cannot replace a regular policy. There is no financial rei