Cover photo courtesy of delawarevisioncare.com
Although huge numbers of seniors need glasses or contacts to see clearly, Medicare typically won’t pay for them. Today, more than 54 million Americans rely on Medicare to help cover their healthcare costs. More than half of all people on Medicare have an income of less than $23,500. Because the need for healthcare increases with age, the cost of vision care for the Medicare population is an important issue we must conquer.
Regular vision exams are vital as you get older. Eye exams help identify chronic conditions, which are extremely important when prolonging the life of America’s seniors. Routine Medicare vision benefits vary depending on the type of plan you have. In most cases, vision care is not covered at all. Medicare recipients spend an average of $500 each year just on exams and glasses. This does not include medications or contact lenses.
Many people who have enjoyed a quality vision plan as a part of their employee benefits package during their working adult life are surprised when they turn 65 and convert to Medicare and a supplemental insurance plan. Unfortunately, the annual comprehensive vision exam and eyeglasses or contacts lenses may no longer be a part of their plan.
Here are some important notes:
- Medicare Part A does not cover routine vision exams and eye refractions. Beneficiaries must pay 100% of the cost unless they have other vision coverage.
- Medicare Part B covers some vision care, but not routine vision exams. You are not covered for vision correction such as eyeglasses or contact lenses under Medicare Part B unless you need vision correction after cataract surgery. Medicare Part B also does not cover eye refractions.
- Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) may offer routine vision benefits, but they come with extremely high premiums.
- Medicare Part D will cover some of the costs on vision care, like eye drops and other eye medications prescribed by a doctor, but will also have increased premiums.
What eye care is covered by Medicare?
Medicare and Medical Eye Problems
Even though Medicare does not pay for annual, routine eye exams, medical office visits and eye exams are covered. If you are having a medical eye problem such as blepharitis or dry eye syndrome, Medicare will pay for any and all necessary medical visits to treat the problem (About Health).
Medicare and Glaucoma Screenings
Although Medicare does not cover regular vision screenings or routine eye exams, it does pay for health screenings for glaucoma. In the year 2000, Medicare developed an office visit code for glaucoma screenings. A glaucoma screening can be performed for patients once every year for individuals with diabetes, a family history of glaucoma, who are African American over age 50, and who are Hispanics aged 65 and older. Glaucoma screenings consist of a dilated examination with intraocular pressure measurement and a slit lamp examination (About Health).
Sadly, almost all of the chatter in Washington these days is about how to control Medicare expenses, not add to them. Until we have a functioning Congress again and more acceptance of the legitimate needs of our aging population, Medicare’s serious coverage omissions may not be reversed for a long time.
However, we can offer you some relief. With the Medicare Plus Discount Card and your current Medicare plan you can receive some great discounts on vision care.
This includes discounts on eye exams and up to 50% off lenses, frames, and more.