I have worn glasses since I was 14 years old. I had eye surgery in 1998 for a detached retina, and again in 2000 for strabismus (double vision). I take my vision seriously. I am thankful for glasses, because they allow me to see. But they can be annoying at times.
That’s why I was glad when, in 2000, I was told that I could wear contact lenses (I had always told that because of the “prism” in my glasses, I couldn’t wear them). The experience of wearing contact lenses was amazing at first, because I was now able to see, but I didn’t have to wear glasses! But contacts had their drawbacks as well. You had to take them out every night, clean them, sometimes they got filmy and unwearable, etc. The biggest drawback was the expense. My experience with getting contacts thus far was this: pay the doctor over $100 for the exam, pay the contact people over $100 for the contacts.
In 2005 I moved to Indianapolis to work in a hospital. They have insurance benefits including vision. I had never had vision insurance, and didn’t understand what it allowed. So I kept doing what I had always done: go to the doctor, assume that they filed the insurance correctly, pay whatever they tell me for the exam, and then buy my contacts outright.
I had occasion to call VSP (the vision insurance company that I have) and ask them exactly what is covered, and what my benefits are. They told me. I was shocked. After several argumentative phone calls with my optician, I have been reimbursed for $150 worth of “exam fees” from last year that I should not have paid. You see, their contact lens exam fee is $106. I am supposed to get a $105 allowance for “contact exam, fitting, and/or lenses”. They assumed that I would buy contacts through them, so they filed the claim for the entire $105, but only gave me credit on my exam for $60. They then filed a claim on Kim’s exam, but didn’t bother giving her any credit at all. So I called yesterday (and the day before), back and forth: optician, VSP, optician, VSP. I finally got it worked out: they are going to reimburse me $150 for the fees we paid that we shouldn’t have.
And that’s not the only good news. I found a new optometrist. They have a good selection of normal glasses, friendly staff, good with kids, knowledgeable doctors, and inexpensive fees. The old place had a good doctor. The rest was no good: “cutting edge glasses” (they looked horrible to non-fashion sensitive me), snotty staff members, not good with kids, a cold atmosphere. The new place only charges $39 for the contact exam fee (versus $106).
More good news: I am getting new contacts. As far as face value goes, they cost twice as much as the contacts I got last year, but….they come with a $60 rebate, and I get to use that $105 allowance on the purchase. What does this mean? A years supply of contacts will cost me $23. That’s right. Twenty-three dollars. Since it’s an allowable expense for my medical flex spending account (which I set up because Kim needs to have two MRI’s this year), I pay the initial costs from that and then get the refunds back into my regular checking account. Pretty sweet.
The final piece of good news is this: These new lenses are extended-wear “bi-weeklies” instead of bi-monthlies. My old contacts (“Focus Monthly” lenses) I would put in every morning, wear them all day, and take them out at night to clean and soak them for at least six hours. I would need to change them when they were just over a month old. The optometrist told me that I could wear them for two months, but they usually got filmy and hard to see through before the 2 month mark. My new contacts are “Acuvue Oasys” lenses. I am supposed to be able to put these in, and leave them in for a week. At the end of the week, I take them out, clean them, and put them right back in. At the two week mark, I take them out and put in new ones. Repeat. So basically, except for putting in a re-wetting eyedrop every morning, and a once-a-week regimen, I don’t have to think about my contacts. I just have 20-20 vision. This is amazing!