I’ve been wearing glasses since the first grade and when I made the switch to contacts in middle school my bills skyrocketed. Luckily, I had my mom there to pay for all my appointments and lenses so I never knew just how expensive everything was. Now that I’ve been on my own for a few years, things are really starting to add up. I have a contact lens prescription of -9.00 and -8.50 so everything costs more.
It takes a lot of money to keep me seeing clearly so I do everything I can to minimize my costs. One big thing that’s helped me is my HSA. All of my vision related services not covered by insurance(exam co-pay, contacts, solution) are paid for with money from my HSA. In 3+ years I’ve already spent $1,300 on HSA-reimbursable expenses. But, I’d rather not spend the money in my HSA if I don’t have to so here’s what I do to save even more.
My Eyeglasses are so NOT Trendy
Even though I wear contacts 90% of the time, I still get a pair of back up eyeglasses once every three years. I usually wear these around the house in the mornings or at night. I try not to wear them in public, because even with the thinnest lenses available on the planet, it still looks like I’m wearing coke bottle glasses.
My eyeglasses never end up costing too much since I get the standard lens and frame. I really don’t care about how I look or even how well I see since I primarily wear contacts during the day and glasses for very short periods at night. If you do have a lower prescription, you can save yourself a lot of money by going exclusively with glasses since they can last for years at a time. Alternatively, you can buy your own frames online and use your VSP allocation towards lenses in the store.
Yearly Contact Exam
My prescription seems to change every single time I go in to the optometrist, but this year was the first time it ever stayed the same. I hope this trend continues since it would allow me to get an exam once every two years and apply my full contact lens contribution towards lenses instead of my fitting co-pay. Here’s how my bill breaks down right now:
Comprehensive Exam Co-Pay: $10 (Usual Cost: $185)
Contact Lens Evaluation/Fitting Co-Pay: $60 (Usual Cost: $165)
Contribution toward your contact Lenses: $150
With my VSP Choice plan, in order to get fitted for contact lenses it costs me $70 out of pocket($60 + $10). That leaves me $150 to spend on contact lenses
but I found out that you can actually apply your fitting co-payment to that $150(but not the exam co-pay). Apparently, my VSP plan has changed from last year to this year. Last year, I was able to apply my $150 allotment to the contact lens fitting(because it wan’t a co-pay). Their normal contact lens fitting cost was $72 and they gave me a 15% discount off of that price. So I was able to apply part of my allotment to the exam price but this year my employer opted to make the lens fitting a co-pay instead of a discount.
This makes a big difference since most optometrists charge top dollar for contacts and that’s where they make their highest profit margin. If you’ve ever shopped around even a tiny bit, you know that you can get contacts online for nearly half the normal cost. My optometrist charges $56 a box(6 contacts x 2 weeks for one eye) for Acuvue Oasis with Astigmatism while LensDiscounters has them for just $27 a box! So here’s what I do:
I pay the $10 co-pay and then I use $60 of my contact lens contribution on the lens fitting. That leaves me $90 to spend on contacts so I buy two boxes at $56 each. As long as the cost of the contacts – $90 is less than the price I would pay with LensDiscounters($27) this makes sense for me to do. After everything is said and done, I end up spending $10 on co-pay and $22 on two boxes of contacts.
Since my lenses are only good for two weeks, two boxes will only last me about three months. I’ll end up buying 6 more boxes online at a total cost of $162. That brings my total yearly costs for contacts to just $194. If I use my HSA to pay for it, that money is tax free so I end up saving another 30-40% off of that.
Readers, does your optometrist sucker you into buying contact lenses from them or have you been shopping online for your lenses? I just checked my records with LensDiscounters and I bought my first pair of lenses from them in 2006, wow!
-Harry @ PF Pro