VSP Insurance — short for Vision Service Plan or Vision Service Policy — is a kind of insurance that covers eye exams, glasses, and related expenses. For strange legal reasons, VSP insurance is frequently not counted under the umbrella of ‘health insurance;’ for example, there are no VSPs available through the ACA exchanges. But it is nevertheless an excellent idea for anyone worried about their long-term eye health.
A Brief Summary of VSPs
Like all insurance policies, VSPs have the same basic attributes:
- A premium, the amount you must pay each month to maintain the benefits.
- A copay, the amount you must pay each time you use a particular health service.
- A deductible, the total amount you must pay each year before the policy kicks in.
- A coverage amount, the total amount that the policy will pay out each year before it ‘kicks out.’
And like all insurance policies, these elements relate to each other in very predictable ways. The larger your copay and/or deductible, the smaller your premium. The smaller your coverage amount, the smaller your premium. In general, for most people, a VSP’s benefit level is low enough that it’s not necessary to worry about the premium. Unlike with most medical insurances, it’s usually worth it to pay the higher premium and deal with having a minimal deductible and copay.
In fact, some VSPs offer coverage amounts so low that they start to reach a tipping point. For example, you can assume that a pair of glasses every other year costs about $250, and an eye exam every other year costs about $150. If that’s all your VSP will cover, do the math: $400 over 24 months is $16.66/month. If your policy wants to charge you more than that, it’s a losing proposition and you should look for a different VSP.
VSPs vs. the company ‘VSP.’
It’s important to note that almost every major insurance company offers some form of vision coverage, most of which are called VSPs. But there is also a company called VSP Vision Care that exclusively offers Vision Service Policies. The policies are inexpensive per month, but you get extremely limited benefits from VSP Insurance. San Jose‘s optometrists are mostly out-of-network for VSP Vision Care’s policies, though Holbert & Associates is one of the uncommon offices that is in-network for VSP Vision Care.