There are two main types of vision insurance plans: group plans and individual plans. Group plans are generally offered by an employer to a group of employees; though, in some cases, other groups such as trade associations can provide a group plan for various kinds of insurance, including vision insurance. Individual plans are, as the name implies, purchased individually by consumers and not as part of a group or through an employer.
In many cases, group plans are less expensive than individual plans for the simple reason that in any group of people there are only going to be a certain number that require eyeglasses or contacts, so the cost is spread out. Meanwhile, individuals buying this insurance are almost always people who do need a lot of these services, since there is much less impetus for someone with perfect vision to buy such a plan.
Even so, some people may find the group plan offered through their employer or association to be too limiting in the coverage it provides for vision care. Some plans only offer a small amount toward glasses or contacts or may not pay for special features a consumer may want or need for his or her glasses. For these people, choosing an individual plan can provide more flexibility with coverage. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of insurance companies that provide individual vision insurance, so options may be fewer than with other kinds of insurance products.
In addition, employers are increasingly limiting the coverage they offer employees, and vision insurance can sometimes be a casualty of these types of insurance plan cuts. Some employers provide coverage for the employee only, not any members of the employee's family. Other plans pass much of the cost off to the employee, once again introducing the issue of self selection, where only those employees who need the coverage will opt to pay for it. Other employers may not offer any vision insurance at all.
While any individual who is offered a group plan through his or her job should at least consider accepting the coverage, depending on the terms of the insurance and how much is covered by the employer, others may find that individual plans are a better choice. As with any insurance product, provided through an employer or otherwise, it is vital that the insured person understand the terms of coverage and what is and is not provided for to avoid unpleasant surprises when there is a claim.
Last Updated: 08/20/2013
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