JHU's vision plan can save you money on everything from eye care to eyewear

Image caption: JHU’s vision plan can save you money on everything from eye care to eyewear.

You've been squinting at your computer screen more than usual lately. Or your 6-year-old sat on your glasses and they're hopelessly crooked. Or maybe you're just ready to switch from glasses to contacts and need a new prescription.

Anyone saddled with less-than-perfect sight knows the above scenarios can come with significant costs. Fortunately, JHU's voluntary vision care plan can help you get quality eye care at a reasonable cost.

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The plan, which offers vision insurance through United HealthCare and is administered by Mercer Voluntary Benefits, allows full-time faculty, staff, and bargaining unit members to cover themselves and their families. Once insured, plan members have access to an extensive network of private practice optometrists and ophthalmologists, as well as major retail vision chains such as America's Best, Doctor's Visionworks, and United Optical. They also get a 15 percent discount on laser vision surgery through Laser Vision Network of America.

For in-network services, you'll pay only a $15 co-pay for annual eye exams, lenses, frames (up to $130), or contact lenses (up to $150). Out-of-network services are reimbursed but at a lower level.

"The biggest benefit comes from using in-network services," says JHU benefits representative Patricia Garmon. "You'll get up to $130 for frames, for example, compared to just $45 if you go out of network. That's really important to know."

Costs are reasonable: $5.25 a month for an individual, $9.44 for an individual and one dependent, and $14.88 for a family.

A bonus for anyone with hearing woes: The plan also offers costs savings on hearing aids bought through hiHealthInnovations.

Garmon's tip when considering whether to enroll in the plan: Be sure to factor in the vision care provided by your medical insurance. JHU's medical plans cover a basic vision exam every other year, and JHU's Kaiser plan also covers periodic exams as well as offering discounts on contacts and lenses. Not only that, but all JHU employees get a discount at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute.

"Some employees with minimal vision care needs might find that their medical coverage, coupled with the Wilmer discount, is all they need," says Garmon, who points out that employees with a health care FSA can also gain savings on some of their vision care spending that way. "For others, the vision plan can be a great way to offset the cost of glasses, contacts, or even laser vision surgery."

Who's eligible: Full-time benefits-eligible employees and bargaining unit members can cover themselves and their family members.

When do I sign up? When hired or during Annual Enrollment, Oct. 20 through Nov. 7, 2017.

How do I pay for it? Payroll deduction.