How to save on prescription eyeglasses

Published 12:29pm Friday, September 28, 2012

Dear Savvy Senior,
What tips or resources can you recommend to help seniors with the high cost of prescription eyeglasses? I used to have vision insurance through my work, but lost it when I retired.
~ Need New Specs
Dear Specs,
There’s no doubt that new eyeglasses can be expensive. You can easily spend $200 for a basic pair, and if you spring for add-ons like anti-glare lenses or designer frames the price can double. If you’re like most retirees, and are paying full out-of-pocket prices every time you get a new pair of glasses, here are a few strategies that can help you save.
Consider insurance
Depending on the amount of vision care you use in a year, one way to cut your overall costs could be to buy a standalone vision insurance policy, or a discount plan which could save you 20 to 60 percent at participating retailers. Most insurance policies run around $120 to $190 a year for individuals, while discount plans cost between $95 and $155 per year and usually provide discounts on both vision and dental, and sometimes prescription drugs. You can find both plan types at ehealthinsurance.com.
Or, if you’re a current or soon-to-be Medicare beneficiary, you may want to consider a Medicare Advantage plan. These are government approved, private health plans (usually HMOs and PPOs) sold by insurance companies that you can choose in place of original Medicare – which does not cover eyeglasses (unless you’ve just had cataract surgery) or routine eye exams. Many Advantage plans offer vision care, in addition to their health care coverage. See www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan to research this option.  

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