Navigating Medicare can be tricky, especially when dealing with vision expenses. While most major procedures (e.g., cataract surgery, eye diseases) are covered, routine exams and eyeglasses are not, which leaves many older Americans with a coverage gap.
As a recent Wall Street Journal article states, there are some exceptions to the rule. For example, diabetes patients and those who are at high risk for glaucoma are entitled to an annual vision exam. Also, Medicare will pay for glasses and contact lenses for post-cataract surgery patients who have had a conventional “intraocular” lens inserted during the operation. And Medicare Advantage planholders, who have insurance plans that are run by private insurers, are typically covered for basic exams and prescription eyewear, but their vision provider network may be limited.
While those who don’t meet the criteria for routine vision coverage can save money by shopping for glasses or contacts through discount retailers, such as Wal-Mart or Costco, or through online retailers, such as Coastal.com, it seems the gaps in Medicare coverage may present an opportunity for vision insurers and brokers. I would love to hear from readers – especially those in the vision industry. Do you think it makes sense for Medicare beneficiaries to seek voluntary supplemental vision insurance to cover gaps?