September 22, 2017

UAB to expand vision benefits with premium coverage option

VISION inside 2Even if you don’t have corrective lenses, you should get an eye exam once a year. Eye doctors often are the first to find signs of serious health conditions, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.UAB offers vision benefits, and eligible employees of UAB, UAB Hospital, and UAB Hospital Management LLC will have the option to choose or decline that coverage during the annual open enrollment for benefits that begins 7 a.m. Oct. 27 and concludes 5 p.m. Nov. 13. This is an active open enrollment, which means that any benefit eligible employee who does not select a 2018 vision option will not have coverage beginning January 2018.

UAB offers its stand-alone vision benefit through Vision Service Plan (VSP), which provides coverage for routine eye exams, lenses and frames, contacts — both in and outside its network — and discounts for LASIK eye surgery (in-network only) and other special discounts to plan members. This year employees also may choose a premium plan option — similar to basic and comprehensive coverage in dental insurance — that includes new replacement frames every year.

Whether or not you could benefit from vision insurance is not always readily apparent, especially if you don’t have any problems with your eyesight. But if you do need corrective lenses or have a growing family, it could prove valuable. There’s no escaping the math.

Information about benefit options are being provided during the next several weeks to better enable you to make the best choices for your household.
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Start by asking yourself five questions:

How much do I spend on vision products and services each year?

Include the cost of annual eye exam(s), glasses, contacts and any anticipated costs for LASIK surgery.

How much would my premiums cost?

Final rates will be provided the week of Oct. 16. As with all UAB health care coverage, premiums are paid with pre-tax dollars through payroll deduction.

What does the plan actually cover?

VSP covers routine, preventive eye care services at reduced rates plus coverage for or discounts on annual eye examinations, eyeglass frames and lenses, contact lenses and LASIK surgery. UAB employees will not experience any change in vision benefit coverage from previous years. More plan detail is available in the Open Enrollment Toolkit

Is there a provider I like who accepts this vision plan?

VSP has a nationwide network of providers. UAB Eye Care, the University Optometric Group faculty practice and UAB Ophthalmology all participate in the VSP network. To find a VSP doctor or a participating retail chain, visit here or call 800-877-7195.

How do I get the most out of vision insurance?

Use it. If you know you need vision correction and get regular eye exams, VSP could save you money. The plan was designed to significantly lower your out-of-pocket costs for vision related expenses.

With VSP, you pay monthly premium x12 + $15 exam co-pay + 25 glasses co-pay. You will only pay $35 for anti-reflective coatings and the plan pays for scratch-resistant coatings.

Without vision benefits, eye exams typically cost up to $155. Glasses can cost anywhere from $100 to $500+ (depending on your lens prescription and your frame of choice). The average annual savings with a VSP provider, including your annual premium is more than $300. VSP covers either lenses and frame or contacts.  In the basic plan you can receive frames every other calendar year.  In the new premier option frames can be purchased every calendar year. If you use the plan for contacts instead of glasses, VSP pays $120 toward your contacts on the basic plan and $150 under the premier option.  With both basic and premier plans you will pay no more than $60 for your contact lens exam (fitting and evaluation).

If you use vision services, you may have more exact numbers, which is even better for your calculations.