We have VSP. Our in-network plan benefits include an eye exam each year ($10 copay) and new lenses every year ($10 copay; single vision are fully covered; with allowances for high index/UV protection/scratch resistant etc.). The benefit for new frames is every two years ($10 copay; $75 towards frame; plus $20 for certain brands; plus 20% off anything over the allowance).
I have three pairs of glasses – regular prescription glasses, prescription sunglasses, and prescription glasses to wear when I’m on the computer. I don’t wear any glasses for close up work – reading, eating, even cooking. Hence I have to get creative with the benefit.
I don’t care what my computer glasses look like and when I got them, years ago, I pretty much chose one of the cheapest pair I could find at Costco. That was a non-frame year. Unless my prescription changes or I lose them or anything, I have no plan to change these – ever.
I do care what my other glasses look like, though I’ve never spent much on frames. Last year I got sunglasses. Two years ago I got new glasses, but I didn’t have to pay for them because the cashier at Nordstrom’s knocked them off the counter and they broke. I wasn’t due for new glasses for a couple of months, but I couldn’t go without and paid $300 to get a new pair that day as my old ones couldn’t be fixed. It was an emergency, after all. (And Nordstrom ended up reimbursing me!)
Anyway, this year is not a frame year. But, I’m tired of my current glasses. They were chosen under duress. Also, at that time I didn’t know that Nordstrom was going to cover them, so I tried to keep the frame price as low as I could and I’ve never been that crazy about them.
Time to get creative. I was hoping to get some on sale at the place I got my sunglasses last year, but it seems only the sunglasses go on a crazy sale in January. Oh well, the frames at Costco are really well priced – as in, I found a cute pair for $50. But Costco isn’t in-network and will only cover $25 of the $95 cost for the lenses, for a total of $70.
So, if I decided to buy my frames at Costco and take them to one of the in-network eye places to have the lenses made, where I would only have to pay the $10 copay and any upcharges for add-ons which, surprisingly, came to $81 and that’s only because I said I didn’t need UV protection since I only wear them inside. At Costco, UV protection is part of the package.
So, even with my in-network insurance benefit, it was more expensive to go to a regular eyeglass place than using Costco and their out-of-network benefit. Wow!! There’s paperwork to send to VSP if I use Costco.
I don’t understand how eyeglass places can compete unless, of course, you’re determined to get very unique, expensive frames. And that would explain the mob of people at Costco vs. just me at the eyeglass store. I ended up ordering them from the eyeglass store, however, because a) I was there, b) I didn’t have to compete with a crowd, and c) I don’t have to fill out and submit any paperwork. It only cost me $11 more.
However, next year, when I’m due for both frames and lenses and will probably get new sunglasses, I will seriously consider getting everything at Costco. I will need the UV coating, which doesn’t cost extra there. And I noticed that they have a decent selection of relatively inexpensive sunglasses. My out-of-nework VSP allowance is $30. I’ll compare what’s on sale at the eyeglass store and go through the whole rigamorole again… I’m not going to worry about it right now, though. I’ll do the math next year. 😉