Best Vision Care Providers of 2018

Grant Morgan ·
Managing Editor
Updated
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We have been reviewing vision care providers for over seven years. This year, we spent 110 hours researching, contacting customer support with questions, and consulting with professionals in the industry. Based on our research, the best vision care provider for most people is VSP Individual Vision Plans. You can get eye exams and a choice of eyeglasses or contacts every 12 months – and there’s a wide network of eye care providers throughout the country. Whether you go through an employer or enroll on your own, this provider offers affordable, thorough coverage for you and your family. 

Best Overall
VSP Individual Vision Plans
VSP Individual Vision Plan has a wide network of vision providers across the U.S., so you’ll have no problem finding one near you. While you are limited to one exam every 12 months, VSP offers plenty of choices for frames and contact lenses, as well as a LASIK surgery option.
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@VSP Individual Vision Plans
Best Overall
VSP Individual Vision Plans
Best Value
EyeBenefits
EyeBenefits is a simplified eye insurance company with a basic package that offers unlimited exams, eyeglasses or contacts as needed during the year. There are plenty of providers to choose from, and while you are limited to in-network providers, some national chains like LensCrafters are included.
View on EyeBenefits
Best for Progressive Lenses
Vision Plan of America
Vision Plan of America combines relatively low premiums with nice allowances for frames and contacts, and it has the best allowance for progressive lenses. You can sign up for a program that gives discounts on LASIK surgery. Unfortunately, the network providers are limited, and the company pays allowance for frames and contacts just once a year.
View on Vision Plan of America
Product
Price
Overall Rating
Plan Value
Frequency
Customer Resources
Out-of-Network Options
Upgraded Plans
Online Member Portal
Phone
Approx. Eye Exam Locations
Email
Mobile App
Exams
Per Month / Person
Enrollment Fee
Plan Selected
Check Price
9.5 9.8 8.8 10
36,000
Mobile Site
12 Months
$14.50
$0.00
Standard Plan
Check Price
9.4 9.3 10 8.8
-
-
12,000+
-
Unlimited
$30.00 / Year
$0.00
Single - 1 Year
Check Price
9.1 9.3 8.8 8.8
-
-
1,000+
-
12 Months
$12.00
$16.00
VIP Premier
Check Price
8.8 9.3 7.5 9.4
-
-
12,000+
-
12 Months
$14.99
$35.00
Vision Focus
Best Overall
VSP Individual Vision Plan is one of the best vision insurance options for thorough coverage for yearly eye care.
Its base Standard Plan, one of several plans the company offers, covers an eye exam every 12 months for every member on the plan for a minimal copay fee. This is standard in the industry, although some services allow for unlimited visits or exams. A bonus allowance gives you funds to buy frames from one of its partner brands. If you prefer contact lenses, you can use your allowance to purchase them without a copay. The Standard Plan offers a percentage discount on this contact lens exam; you can also choose the option to pay for the lens exam by using your contact lenses allowance. There is also an allowance for a LASIK procedure if you decide to go that route. More than 36,000 vision care providers accept VSP insurance, so finding an eye care provider near you shouldn’t be a problem.
Pros
  • This company offers low copays and high allowances.
  • A mobile app that makes it easy to access information on the go.
  • It’s accepted by more than 36,000 eye care providers across the U.S.
Cons
  • You are limited to one eye exam and one pair of glasses or contacts per year.
  • The allowance for progressive lenses is slightly less than other companies offer.
  • You may have to invest more time researching the plan you want, since this service offers several plans.
VSP Individual Vision Plans
Read the full review
Best Value
EyeBenefits is an atypical vision insurance plan that provides flexibility when you want vision care that is not provided by your employer.
This vision care plan is best for people without eye conditions or special vision care needs because the simple plan doesn’t have options for more extensive benefits. EyeBenefits doesn't limit the number of times you can use benefits. You can enroll in a plan that is good for one to three years. You have to pay annually, but the amount is significantly less than the annual cost of other plans we looked at. Other plans pay out a predetermined allowance that goes toward eyeglasses or contacts. This insurance pays for a percentage. You receive 10 percent to 20 percent off eyeglass examinations at independent and regional optical locations, and 10 percent to 30 percent off examinations for contact lenses. You also save 10 percent to 50 percent on glasses or contacts, depending on where you get them. You can save the same percentage on LASIK surgery, which is also dependent on where you go. The savings can, therefore, be substantial if you’re careful about choosing where you go for services. There is a network of more than 12,000 optical locations that accept this insurance, so there is a good chance you’ll find one close to you. You’re not limited to one exam and one pair of eyeglasses per year, as you are with many agencies. If you go to an independent or regional optical center, the pricing fluctuates and is unpredictable. If you go to a national chain like Target Optical, there is standard pricing and you will save 30 percent off the retail price of your frames.
Pros
  • There is no limit to the number of times you can use your benefits.
  • You can save up to 50 percent on eyeglasses, contacts or LASIK surgery.
  • EyeBenefits partners with national chains like Sears Optical and LensCrafters.
Cons
  • There are no out-of-network options with this company.
  • EyeBenefits offers just a basic plan with no options for more extensive benefit packages.
  • It only pays for a percentage of costs, and that varies quite a bit.
EyeBenefits
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Best for Progressive Lenses
Vision Plan of America offers flat-rate pricing through the VIP Premier plan, and you can add additional lens options when you purchase frames.
This vision service's flexibility and low rates make it a solid choice. It has some of the best lens payment options available. There is a low monthly premium, and each person on the plan has an annual deductible of $25. This deductible is a convenient offering, since once it is met, you will not have to pay additional fees for a complete vision exam and lens exam. To enroll as a new member in a Vision of America plan, there is a one-time enrollment fee. The VIP plan benefits are based on flat rates rather than on discount percentages. With the VIP Premier plan, you receive $100 per year to cover costs of both contact lenses and new frames. Unfortunately, this coverage occurs just once a year, so if your glasses or contacts are lost or broken, you’ll have to pay to replace them or wait until the next 12-month cycle. Most services also offer a discount on a second pair of frames, but this insurance service does not. Vision Plan of America gives you access to the Qualsight program, which allows preferred pricing for LASIK surgery. Member savings are between 40 percent and 55 percent. You also get competitive allowances across the board for services like UV coating, tinting and scratch resistance. It also offers the best allowance for progressive lenses ($190) of any service we considered. A drawback with this VIP Premier plan is that coverage does not begin right away. If you enroll prior to the 20th of the month, coverage will begin the first day of the following month. There are only about 1,000 exam locations in network throughout the U.S., fewer than any other service we looked at, and it doesn’t have out-of-network options.
Pros
  • You get free eye exams with this service.
  • The Qualsight program gives you preferred pricing for LASIK surgery.
  • It has the best progressive lens allowance: $190.
Cons
  • There is no discount on a second pair of frames or contacts.
  • You get an allowance for frames and contacts just once a year.
  • It has limited vision care centers in its network and no out-of-network options.
Vision Plan of America
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Best Customer Resources
With extensive customer support features and a large library of articles related to vision insurance and eye health, Humana has the best resources to help you make a confident choice in coverage. Vision insurance, as with all kinds of insurance, is complicated and largely dependent on your personal health and coverage requirements. By providing an extensive library of eye-care related articles, vision insurance FAQs and support contact tools, you can parse through the complicated coverages to choose a plan at a price to fit your income and vision needs. When it comes to the best customer resource, Humana is the best option. Humana's eye-care coverage plan is mostly average. The plan only has a network of about 12,000 providers. While you’re likely find an optometrist in your area who accepts Humana, the best vision insurance companies have networks exceeding 36,000 providers and as high as 86,000 providers. In addition, the monthly premiums are average, as are the co-pay. However, you do get a $100 allowance for new frames or contacts every 12 to 24 months, and you can get a 15 percent discount on Lasik, so long as the provider is within the network.
Pros
  • Eye exams are covered at a flat rate of $10.
Cons
  • The network of providers is relatively small.
VariesHumana
Read the full review
Best Network of Providers
Vision insurance only has value if the optometrist, ophthalmologist or optician you visit accepts it. With EyeMed, there are over 87,500 vision care providers in its network. Put your zip code into its Provider Finder tool and it shows every eye care specialist in your area who accepts its insurance plans. The tool also shows the contact info, office hours and the distance from you. You can schedule an appointment for most of proviers directly from the EyeMed website. In our test area alone, there are 70 vision care providers in the EyeMed network. The biggest downside to EyeMed is the availability. The individual plans aren't available in many states, as the bulk of the business is centered on employer partnerships. That said, if the individual plans are available in your state, the monthly premiums are as low as $5 per month, and with three plans, the coverage options are excellent. Many insurance providers only have one vision care plan.
Pros
  • The network has over 87,500 vision care providers.
Cons
  • May only be available through your employer.
VariesEyeMed
Read the full review

How We Evaluated

To evaluate vision care providers, we did extensive research into each company and its offerings. We explored a variety of options and documented the costs and allowances of each service. We looked into how well each company provides for various vision care needs. We contacted each of the providers with questions that arose during this process. This also let us see how representatives responded to customers. We talked to professionals and industry insiders to get an idea of the most important features of vision care providers, and to get their opinions about the best services available. 

How Much Does Vision Insurance Cost?

Vision insurance plans vary in price and coverage based on your location, age and eye-health requirement. Most vision insurance plans start between $6 and $14 per month for a 12-month enrollment period. More comprehensive plans cost around $30 and $50 per month. In addition, some plans have enrollment fees ranging between $16 and $35, but the best vision care providers don’t charge an enrollment fee.

Once you are on a plan, expect to pay around $10 for an eye exam, receive allowances of up to $100 per year for frames and discounts on elective procedures, like Lasik.

Vision Care: What to Look For
Any type of health insurance can be confusing, especially with constantly changing regulations and fees. Upfront, decide whether you need to find a benefit plan that will cover the cost of exams, certain types of eyewear or contacts, or even LASIK surgery. When we evaluated the top vision insurance providers, we were looking for these criteria.

Plan Value
The value of any eye care plan is determined by costs for enrollment and basic services, as well as the coverage the company provides toward eyewear and expenses like LASIK surgery. When reviewing the best vision insurance plans, we looked at basic fees and enrollment costs. The average cost of enrollment was around $20; the best vision insurance providers charge no enrollment fees beyond the monthly or yearly premium.

Another area to explore is the allowance an insurance provider offers for frames and contact lenses. Some vision pay for a percentage of your eyewear, while the best providers give you a flat-rate dollar amount to apply toward any pair.

Taking care of your eyewear is an important part of a vision plan, which is why the top vision insurance providers help you pay for lens options such as UV coating, scratch-resistant surfaces and tinted lenses.

Frequency
Another important part of choosing a vision insurance provider is the frequency with which you can use your benefits. Some providers allow new lenses or eye exams once a year. Some of the best insurance providers allow you to use your benefits as you see fit, with no yearly limit on the number of times you can use them.

Customer Resources
Know the resources available to you as a member. Pay attention to the estimated number of eye exam locations; the higher the number, the more likely you will be able to easily find an eye care provider near you. The best providers allow you thousands of options around the country and do not limit you to one major chain. Also consider the help and support options. All insurance providers should give you a way to contact them over the phone or through email. The best providers will quickly respond to your telephone messages and emails with friendly customer service.