At NVA, we believe in helping our members become smarter buyers of eye care and eyewear, and the first step to making better vision care choices is understanding what those choices are and which works best for your benefit plan. With that in mind, here are some tips, explanations, and resources to help you maximize your NVA vision benefit:
1. Read Up on Your Benefit
Having a vision benefit can slash the cost of eyeglasses, contacts, and eye exams considerably. However, understanding what your benefit covers and what does not is crucial to achieving those savings. Start your benefit savings by asking the following:
- Do I have a co-pay?
- What is the maximum amount my benefit covers for a frame?
- What costs am I responsible to pay?
- Are there additional discounts available to me, such as Lasik surgery? (Yes, yes there are.)
- Can I purchase eyeglasses and contact lenses during the same benefit period? (With some plans you must choose one or the other.)
You can find answers to these questions on our NVA App, which allows you to check your benefit information on eye exams, eyeglass lenses and frames, and contact lenses; the NVA website member portal, which allows you to view your eligibility and program design; and brochure materials provided by your company’s HR department, which will outline your plan-specific benefits. When you login or open up the materials, look for these key terms:
- Frame Allowance – A set dollar amount or percentage covered by the vision plan towards the purchase of frames. The frame allowance may completely cover the frame of choice or reduce the employee’s out-of-pocket costs.
- Lens Benefit – A set amount or percentage covered by the plan towards the purchase of prescription lenses. This may be covered in full or may cover the majority of the cost, depending on plan design and network considerations.
- Lens Options Pricing – A set amount or percentage covered by the vision plan towards the purchase of lens options. Examples of options include anti-reflective coatings, photochromic (light sensitive) lenses, UV coatings and tints.
- Contact Lens Allowance – A set amount or percentage covered by the vision plan toward the purchase of contact lenses. The ever-changing costs associated with contact lenses and various types of contacts make it difficult to determine the exact cost, so employees should discuss this option with their Eye Care Professional.
- Discounts – Cost reductions for related items such as non-covered lens options, Lasik Refractive surgery, online eyewear purchases and hearing aids.
2. Explore Your Network
NVA has extensive national networks including tens of thousands of ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians. The networks include well-known optical retailers as well as independent practitioners.
You can see who is in-network near you in four easy ways:
- NVA App
- NVA Website Member Portal – Register and login to automatically find providers specific to your group and access to other important benefit information.
- NVA Website (non-login) – Search for providers on this page, just make sure to include your Group/Sponsor Number from your ID card.
- Call Us – 800-672-7723 to search via our IVR phone system or to speak with a customer service representative for assistance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
NVA’s national network of providers includes tens of thousands of ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians, encompassing independent practitioners as well as optical retailers. If your provider is not currently on the panel of providers, contact us and we will solicit that provider to join the NVA provider network.
If you do decide to use a provider that is not on the panel, your plan may offer reimbursement of a percentage of the money spent on covered services. Simply print the Direct Reimbursement Claim Form, complete it, attach your receipts and mail it to us for processing.
3. Select a Provider
Finding an in-network provider is easy with NVA, but basing a decision on which in-network eye doctor to choose may require a little more consideration. Once you have narrowed down a list of nearby providers, ask questions such as:
- “Do they offer a wide variety of eyeglass frames that fit within my budget?”
- “How many frames do they have available for zero dollars out of pocket?”
- “Are they accepting new patients?”
- “What are their office hours and locations? What languages do they speak?”
You can find many of these answers in the provider details on the Find Providers tab in the NVA app and NVA website member portal, as well as the “provider details” section of the NVA website (non-login) provider search. A good place to find recommendations on eye care professionals are social media groups and/or healthcare professional review sites such as www.zocdoc.com. On some healthcare professional review websites, reviews are verified, and ratings from other patients are clearly viewable.
4. Compare Before You Buy to Save Money AND Time
Spend some time researching before you buy. For example, you may think you are getting a ‘good deal’ on a discontinued frame, but if they break a replacement part may no longer be available to fix it. You could end up spending more dollars and time than if you selected in-stock frames.
One way is to use the NVA Smart Buyer® on the NVA app to discover how your specific prescription can dictate your choice in lenses and frames as well as general factors to consider when selecting frames and the pros and cons of lenses and lens options along with estimated retail pricing, etc.
You can also look at frames online before visiting a private practice or optical retail store. Bookmark the link or print out the frames you like along with the price and show it to your eye care professional during your visit. Just remember: you don’t need to buy your lenses there: you can get your eyes examined at one provider and purchase your eyeglasses from another source. This can save upwards of 20%-30%.
5. Use Flexible Spending Account (FSA) for Out-of-Pocket Expenses
No one wants to see money go to waste. If your employer offers flexible spending account, consider applying these dollars toward the purchase of vision care services or products such as contact lenses, LASIK surgery, and eyeglasses. Remember: FSA dollars must be used by the end of the year or they are lost!
Take control of your vision by arming yourself with knowledge about your vision benefits. Become a smarter, better consumer of eye care and eyewear!