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Does Medicare Cover Eyeglasses For Diabetics

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Eye Exams For Diabetes

Medicare Advantage vision care

The American Academy of Ophthalmology calls attention to the unique eye care needs of people with diabetes, even if your blood sugar is closely monitored and under control.

AAO guidelines for diabetic eye exams:

  • Type 1 diabetes: within five years of the onset of diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes: immediately following the diagnosis at any age, following your ophthalmologists recommendation after that

Types of eye testing:

  • Eye muscle to check for weakness, diminished control or lack of coordination
  • Visual acuity to check if you see clearly
  • Refraction to determine if you need corrective lenses or a corrective lens adjustment
  • Perimetry to test your field of vision
  • Color vision to detect color blindness
  • Slit-lamp to uncover damaged cells
  • Retinal to assess the back of your eye
  • Tonometry to measure fluid pressure, which can reveal signs of glaucoma

Some Tests And Screening


Medicare Part B covers tests for glaucoma every 12 months if youre considered high risk, meaning:

  • You have a family history of glaucoma.
  • You are African American and 50 or older.
  • You are Hispanic and 65 or older.

If Part B covers your glaucoma test, you must pay your deductible and then pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount. Depending on where you get the glaucoma test, you may also have a copayment.16

Macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration is a condition that affects the part of your retina called the macula. AMD can cause loss of central vision, which makes it hard to focus on objects straight ahead.17

Diagnosing AMD may require a dilated eye exam that allows your doctor to look inside your eye. Other tests to identify AMD include a retinal scan or a test to study the blood vessels in your eye.18

Medicare Part B covers certain tests and treatments if you have AMD. You pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for tests and treatments that a Medicare-approved doctor performs after youve met your deductible. If you get AMD testing or treatment in a hospital clinic, you also have a copayment.19

Other Coverage Options For Eyeglasses

There are several organizations that can help with the costs of your eyeglasses and vision care. Some examples include:

  • EyeCare America. This is a service from the American Academy of Ophthalmology that partners with area volunteer eye doctors to provide eye exams. However, this organization doesnt provide eyeglasses.
  • Lenscrafters Foundation: OneSight. This foundation has provided more than 10 million eyeglasses to those in need since its founding.
  • Lions Club International. This nonprofit organization provides free eyeglasses to those in its member communities. Contact your local Lions Club chapter to find out more.
  • Medicaid. Medicaid is a state-based government program that helps pay for healthcare and other services for those in need. While Medicaid coverage may vary state by state, many programs pay for a pair of eyeglasses and lenses once every 5 years.
  • New Eyes for the Needy. This is another nonprofit program that helps provide eyeglasses for those in need. Visit its website to see if you may qualify.

Also Check: Do You Have To Buy Medicare Part B

Does Medicare Cover Eye Exams For Macular Degeneration

If you have macular degeneration, or your doctor suspects you do, Medicare Part B generally covers eye exams and tests to diagnose the disease, related doctor visits, and certain injectable drugs used to treat macular degeneration.

Part B generally covers allowable charges at 80% after your deductible is met.

Does Medicare Pay For Eyeglasses For Diabetics

Medicare Eye Exams in North Carolina: What You Need to Know!

Whether you have diabetes or youre at risk, Medicare may help with the costs of certain tests, drugs, supplies and services.

Medicare also will pay for annual glaucoma screenings for high-risk individuals, including those with diabetes, a family history of glaucoma and African Americans who are age 50 or older. These screenings consist of a comprehensive eye exam, along with dilation and intraocular pressure measurement.

Unfortunately, Medicare Part B wont cover the cost of eyeglasses for diabetics unless theyve had a vitrectomy or cataract surgery. Post-procedure, Medicare Part B will cover the cost of one pair of glasses or contact lenses from a Medicare-enrolled subscriber.

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Which Eye Exams Does Medicare Cover

In general, Original Medicare doesnt cover routine eye exams for eyeglasses or contact lenses however, there are some exceptions to this rule because Medicare can provide coverage for eye exams and vision care if an individual has diabetes, glaucoma, macular degeneration, or has undergone cataract surgery.

Original Medicare And Cataract Surgery

In addition to covering some of the expenses associated with treating age-related macular degeneration, Medicare covers a specific set of costs related to cataract surgery conducted via traditional surgery or lasers because this is deemed a medically necessary procedure.

With a Medicare Advantage plan, you are entitled to all of the benefits covered under Original Medicare , but they are provided by private insurance companies instead.

Medicare Part B also assists by helping pay for corrective lenses required after cataract surgery in which an intraocular lens is implanted. These corrective lenseswhether eyeglasses or contactsmust be purchased from a Medicare-enrolled supplier in order to be covered either in whole or in part.

To determine what your portion of the expenses would be if you have Medicare Part B and need cataract surgery, recommends checking with the doctor or medical care facility conducting the procedure. Theyll be able to give you a better estimate based on:

  • How much care youll need post-surgery
  • Whether the surgery will be conducted on an inpatient or outpatient basis
  • Whether youve met your deductible
  • If you have any copayments
  • If you have any other additional insurance policy that may pick up some or all of the costs

Read Also: How To Sell Medicare Advantage Plans

How Much Do Eye Exams Cost With Medicare

How much does Medicare pay for an eye exam? If an eye exam is covered by Original Medicare, you would have your normal Medicare Part B out-of-pocket costs. That means meeting your annual deductible if you have not done so yet, and then paying 20% of the Medicare-approved cost for the exam.

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you may have different costs. For example, there could be a set copayment instead of a percentage. Youll need to review your plans coverage information so you know what to expect. Learn more about the latest updates to Medicare premiums and deductibles.

Who Accepts Medicare For Eyeglasses

Medicare and Diabetes: Everything You Need to Know!

There are several optometrists, ophthalmologists, and vision centers that accept Medicare. You can find national and regional retailers accepting Medicare when you check in for an eye exam or get a new pair of glasses. You can also ask for a list of accepted insurance plans from your chosen establishment or optometrist. Some of these establishments also allow for online ordering and contactless pick-up or delivery of your glasses.

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Look For Optical Centers That Take Medicare

There are a few national optical centers that accept Medicare. The easiest way to check whether the provider of your choice accepts Medicare is to check its website to see if Medicare is listed as an accepted insurance plan. Also, be sure to check the service coverage to make sure your specific needs will be met at this specific establishment.

Medicare And Vision Coverage

âMost people are surprised to know they have better coverage than they think for medical eye exams,â says Dr. Grant.

Medicare covers almost all vision care â the only exceptions are materials, like glasses or contacts, and the portion of your eye exam that checks your glasses.

Dr. Grant explains that when someone comes in, they bill most of the exam to Medicare. The patient would only have a charge for the checking of the glasses, which isnât covered by Medicare.

If the eye exam is for any kind of condition, such as cataracts, Medicare covers it.

âAs long as there’s a medical reason to be checking the eyes â which is anything other than near-sighted or far-sighted â itâs covered under Medicare,â he explains.

While Medicare doesnât typically pay for glasses or contacts, the one exception is immediately after cataract surgery. âThey pay a few hundred dollars towards glasses. Thatâs the one time,â Dr. Grant laughs.

If you came to Dr. Grant with glaucoma, youâd have two to three appointments per year, and most of your visits and the necessary testing would be covered by Medicare and your Medicare Supplement.

Any out-of-pocket costs you might have would be based on Medicareâs allowable charges.

âMedicare treats eye doctors as just a different kind of specialist,â Dr. Grant explains.

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What Does Medicare Cover For Vision

Original Medicare will not cover the cost of eyeglasses, contact lenses or routine vision exams.

Medicare Advantage Plans, on the other hand, are health plans run by private insurance companies and combine the benefits of Medicares Hospital and Medical Insurance . Plus, they include additional benefits like Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage as well as services like routine eye exams and costs like eyeglasses, often for an extra premium.

While Medicare Advantage Plans cost a little more than Original Medicare, theyre worth considering as enrollment may still be cheaper than paying out of pocket for vision care.

In addition to annual vision exams, these vision benefits may include:

  • Preventive eye exams

Please note that specific benefits may vary depending on the plans available in your area. For help selecting an individual health plan that includes vision benefits, visit the official website for Medicare.

SEE ALSO: Does Medicare cover eye exams?

What If I Need Vision Care That Medicare Does Not Cover

Are Diabetic Eye Exams Covered By Medicare?

If you need care that your Medicare plan does not cover, the National Eye Institute website has a list of helpful resources. Visit the institute’s Get Help Paying for Eye Care page for more information.

You also may want to consider a private vision plan or discount program. Private plans often offer benefit levels ranging from routine to specialty care, so you can tailor coverage to meet your needs. When reviewing plans, watch for coverage limits, network restrictions and out-of-pocket expenses like deductibles and copays.

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Other Vision Coverage Options

If you dont want Medicare Advantage, you can purchase separate vision plans for seniors and Medicare eligibles. Vision policy premiums vary but are based on your age, health, and family history . Most vision plans start at around $15 per month, but yours may be different. You may be able to save money by purchasing a vision plan that is combined with another benefit, like dental.

Private vision plans for seniors and Medicare eligibles and Medicare Advantage vision coverage both usually include annual exams, discounts for surgeries and services, and a specific allowance for glasses and contact lenses. Allowances will vary based on the plan you choose.

When Does Medicare Pay For Eye Exams And Glasses

Original Medicare doesnt cover routine eye exams and prescription eyewear. This means if you have Part A and Part B, you generally pay 100 percent of the costs associated with annual eye exams, glasses, and contact lenses.

Medicare will pay for eye exams in certain situations. For example, Medicare pays for eye health screening and diagnostic exams if you have diabetes or age-related macular generation or you are at high risk for glaucoma.

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Do Medicare Advantage Plans Pay For Glasses

While Original Medicare coverage of routine vision care is limited, some Medicare Advantage plans may include additional vision benefits. Medicare Advantage plans are required to provide at least the same level of coverage as Medicare Part A and Part B, but many plans also cover additional benefits that go beyond Original Medicare, which may include routine dental or eye care.

Under a Medicare Advantage plan, vision benefits may include:

  • Preventive eye exams covered under Original Medicare
  • Routine eye exams

Keep in mind that the specific benefits may vary, depending on the Medicare Advantage plans available in your service area. For more information, check with the individual health plan youâre considering. If youâd like help finding a Medicare Advantage plan that includes vision benefits, you can visit or call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE , 24 hours a day, seven days a week (TTY users, call 1-877-486-2048. You can also contact eHealth to speak with a licensed insurance agent about your Medicare plan options.

Medicare information is everywhere. What is hard is knowing which information to trust. Because eHealthâs Medicare related content is compliant with CMS regulations, you can rest assured youâre getting accurate information so you can make the right decisions for your coverage.Read more to learn about our Compliance Program.

Glasses Contacts And Eye Exams: Does Medicare Cover It

Some Common Misconceptions Around Medicare Examined

In your 60s and beyond, eye conditions like cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration are extremely common, with some conditions occurring in more than half of seniors.

Once you turn 65, youâre probably relying on Medicare coverage to help with vision expenses. We turned to Dr. Bradley Grant, O.D. at Mid-State Eye in Central IL for some insight into how Medicare helps pay for things like glasses, contacts, eye exams, and common treatments.

Need Medicare or retirement planning help? The Sams/Hockaday team specializes in Medicare health insurance as well as retirement planning. Read more about what we do and schedule an appointment with the agent of your choice today!

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Does Medicare Cover Dry Eyes And Allergies

Though having dry eyes wont necessarily impact your vision, it can be a painful condition that affects your quality of life. Medicare will generally cover an exam to diagnose the problem since its not considered routine, at which point youll be on the hook for 20% coinsurance after youve met your Part B. Your Part D plan might also cover medication to treat the condition, though in some cases, over-the-counter treatment will suffice. Youll get similar coverage with a Medicare Advantage plan, and Medigap can help with your out-of-pocket costs if you have Original Medicare.

Best Medicare Advantage Options For Vision Care

Of the vision plans we reviewed, three stood out as top options based on factors such as add-on benefits and coverage limits.

Blue Cross Blue Shield: Highest eyewear benefit amount

Kaiser Permanente Added eyewear allowance with purchase of Advantage Plus package Standard biannual eyewear benefit of $40 very low Advantage Plus doesn’t bring it to the level of the top plans 5

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Vision Coverage Through Medicare Advantage

All Medicare Advantage plans must cover everything Medicare Part A and Part B covers as a bare minimum. But most Medicare Advantage plans also offer vision coverage.

However, since vision is considered additional coverage, you will have to pay extra for it.

Medicare Advantage plans may cover all or part of the costs of routine eye exams, glasses, contacts and any fittings for frames and lenses.

But you should shop around and look closely at exactly what a plan offers if youre interested in vision coverage. Not all plans include vision care.

Remember that Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies and coverage differs from plan to plan and depending on the state where you live.

Does Medicare Pay For Eye Exams

You Won

Vision care costs can break your budget if you dont have insurance that covers them. Find out when Medicare pays for eye exams and glasses, and learn about other vision plan options.

Everyday Health may earn a portion of revenue from purchases of featured products.

Even if you dont wear glasses, its good to know the basics of Medicare eye exam coverage.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends regular routine eye exams for older adults, especially since vision changes can be an early warning sign for high blood pressure, diabetes, and serious eye diseases that can lead to vision loss.

Original Medicare pays for eye exams and glasses in certain situations, but limited coverage is available for routine eye care. Heres what you need to know about Medicare and vision coverage.

Read Also: What Does Plan N Medicare Supplement Cover

Symptoms Of Diabetic Eye Diseases

A preventive eye exam is critical because you may not have any symptoms in the early stages of diabetic eye disease. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases outlines the symptoms you may experience at some point:

  • Blurry or wavy sight
  • Daily or frequency changes in your vision
  • Loss of vision or areas that appear dark
  • Reduced color vision

Blue Cross Medicare Supplement Or Legacy Medigap

Blue Cross Medicare Supplement plans do not include routine eye exams. You may choose to pair a new or existing Blue Cross Medicare Supplement or Legacy Medigap plan with the Dental Vision Hearing Package that includes coverage for an exam and lenses, and an allowance for frames or contact lenses. It also includes dental and hearing benefits.

Learn more about how to get coverage for your Blue Cross Medicare Supplement or Legacy Medigap plan.

This is a solicitation of insurance. We may contact you about buying insurance. Blue Cross Medicare Supplement plans arent connected with or endorsed by the U.S. government or the federal Medicare program.

Tip: You might need to pay a copay or coinsurance for these benefits. Check your plans Summary of Benefits for more details.

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Does Medicare Cover Glaucoma Screening

Medicare Part B covers a glaucoma screening test once every 12 months for people at high risk for glaucoma. This includes people with diabetes, a family history of glaucoma, African Americans who are age 50 or older, and Hispanic Americans who are age 65 or older. The screening must be done or supervised by an eye doctor who is legally allowed to do this service in your state.

You pay 20% of Medicare-approved amounts, and the Part B deductible applies.

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