Why Vision Care Is Important For Seniors
As we get older, its important to take an active role in protecting and maintaining eye health. Those who suffer from untreated eye problems are more likely to fall, be less independent, and experience reduced quality of life.
75 percent of Americans use some form of vision correction. So, it makes sense that most Americans need vision care included in their Medicare plan. Comprehensive eye care plans can help prevent or correct many vision problems, such as:
Who Is Eligible For Medicare
Medicare is a health insurance program that provides insurance from the federal government.
The Medicare program is only available to those individuals who meet certain requirements.
Eligibility criteria for Medicare include being age 65 or older, receiving Social Security Disability benefits for two years, having end stage renal disease, or having amyotrophic lateral sclerosis .
The individuals who meet any of these criteria can receive the benefits provided from Medicare.
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.
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Does Medicare Part A Cover Vision Care
Part A of Medicare covers hospitalization. In the case of a medical emergency or traumatic injury, Medicare Part A only covers vision care when it is considered a medical problem. Routine eye exams and refractions are not covered by Medicare Part A. If you do not have other vision coverage, you will pay 100% of the out-of-pocket costs.
How Does Medicare Cover Vision Care And Eye Exams
Find Cheap Medicare Plans in Your Area
When it comes to vision care, Medicare Advantage plans generally offer lower costs and more coverage than Original Medicare. If you are shopping for a plan and need routine vision benefits like exams and eyewear, we recommend starting with Medicare Advantage options.
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Macular Degeneration Diagnosis And Treatment
According to the National Institutes of Health, this disabling vision disease is associated with aging. Often gradually, vision is reduced in the center of the visual field, making it difficult to identify faces even though your vision allows you to see around the edges. Medicare Part B vision benefits may cover the costs of diagnosis and treatment, including certain prescription drugs used to treat macular degeneration.
What Are The Parts Of Medicare
Medicare is classified into different Parts which each cover different services.
Part A Medicare covers hospital-based services and hospital stays.
Part B Medicare covers non-hospital services, such as a doctors visits and outpatient therapy.
Part C Medicare is a part of the Medicare Advantage program to assist with copayment or coinsurance not covered by other parts.
Part D Medicare covers prescription drugs from an outpatient pharmacy.
It is important to understand the different coverage categories as the type of care will dictate what the amount of coverage is.
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Which Medicare Plans Are Best If You Need Vision Care
Medicare Advantage Plans are best if you need vision care. MA plans cover all services that Original Medicare Part B does, plus help with routine eye exams and corrective lenses.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 98% of individual Medicare Advantage Plans and 96% of Special Needs Plans available in the U.S. in 2022 offer some vision benefits. You generally must choose in-network providers and may need to obtain referrals and prior authorization.
Details about vision care benefits you can receive and how much you pay are outlined in each plans Evidence of Coverage or Summary of Benefits documents. Some plans offer additional vision care coverage for an additional monthly premium.
Here is a comparison chart of five MA insurance companies, all HMO plans, to give you an idea of what non-Medicare vision coverage may be available to you in your area :
|Medicare Advantage Plan Provider|
|UnitedHealthcare||Routine exams covered $200 allowance for lenses every year.|
You can search for plans on the Medicare website. If you anticipate the need for vision care and corrective lenses, its a good idea to check with your eye care provider to see if they are in-network with the plan you choose.
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Vision Screening And Risk Factors
Although Original Medicare doesnt cover routine vision care, Medicare Part B covers one preventive vision screening per year for those at high risk for glaucoma. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, African-Americans aged 50 and older, Hispanic Americans aged 65 and older, people with diabetes, and people with a family history of glaucoma are at high risk for the disease. An eye doctor whos legally permitted by your state must perform the exam.
Do Medicare Advantage Plans Cover Optometry Services
As an alternative to Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans must offer beneficiaries the same health care benefits as provided by Parts A and B, but many provide extra benefits like dental, hearing, vision, and prescription drug coverage.
You can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan from private insurance providers that are affiliated with Medicare. All providers have the option to choose whether to include extra benefits, so you should examine all available options before enrolling in an MA plan if you specifically want coverage for optometry services.
Medicare Advantage vision benefits vary from plan to plan but generally include coverage for:
- routine eye exams
- fittings for frames and lenses
- and in many cases, an upgrade in eyeglass frames
Your out-of-pocket costs for your vision care coverage depend on what your Part C plan charges for copayments and premiums. You may also need to continue paying your Medicare Part B premium if it isnt included in your Medicare Advantage plans coverage.
It is also important to note that your Medicare Advantage plan may require that you get all your medical services and supplies through healthcare providers, physicians, and suppliers that are included in the plans network.
If you arent sure about your Medicare Advantage plans network restrictions, you can find this information in your written policy, at your providers online site, or by calling your provider and speaking with a representative.
Hearing Exams And Hearing Aids
Medicare doesn’t cover routine hearing exams, hearing aids, or exams for fitting hearing aids. Medicare Part B covers diagnostic hearing and balance exams if your doctor or other health care provider orders these tests to see if you need medical treatment. All people with Part B are covered.
Your costs in Original Medicare:
- You pay 100% for routine exams and hearing aids.
- You pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for the doctor’s services for covered exams, and the Part B deductible applies.
- In a hospital outpatient setting, you also pay the hospital a copayment.
Note: Some Medicare Advantage plans offer extra hearing benefits. Be sure to contact the plan for more information.
Does Medicare Cover Lasik Surgery
Medicare Part A and Part B do not cover Lasik procedures unless a physician deems them medically necessary. Medicare does not cover the procedure for the sake of standard vision correction.
One example of Lasik coverage by Medicare is for a traumatic injury in which Lasik could be a beneficial treatment. Lasik is a procedure that treats farsightedness, astigmatisms, and nearsightedness.
Lasik surgery is the most common eye surgery, proven to drastically improve eyesight immediately following the procedure. It is a surgery that uses a laser and is virtually painless for patients. In most cases, Medicare will not pay for the eye exam prior to a Lasik procedure.
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Will Medicare Cover Treatment For Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve, potentially resulting in vision loss. Medicare Part B will cover annual glaucoma screenings for those considered high-risk, including diabetics and older Americans with a family history of the disease. African Americans aged 50 and older, and Hispanic individuals aged 65 and over are also considered high-risk.
Youll still be responsible for your Part B deductible and if youve already met the deductible, 20% of the cost of your exam. .
Glaucoma treatment is generally covered under Medicare. Outpatient laser surgery falls under Part B, and eye drops to address the condition fall under Medicare Part D. Your out-of-pocket costs associated with your drops will depend on your Part D plans formulary.
Because Medicare Advantage is required to provide coverage for the conditions that are covered by Original Medicare, it also covers glaucoma screenings and treatment. But because Medicare Advantage plans can design their own benefits, the out-of-pocket costs can vary considerably from one plan to another.
Medigap, meanwhile, can cover some or all of the costs associated with your glaucoma screening and treatment under Original Medicare by picking up the tab for your deductibles and coinsurance. And if you have supplemental coverage provided by an employer, your out-of-pocket costs will depend on the specifics of the plan.
Does Medicare Part B Cover Vision Care
Medical insurance is part of Medicare Part B. However, routine vision exams are not covered by Medicare Part B. Medicare Part B does not cover eyeglasses or contact lenses unless you need vision correction after cataract surgery. Refractions of the eye are also not covered by Medicare Part B.
That said, if you are at high risk for Glaucoma, Part B will cover the screenings. Your doctor will deem you high risk based on your unique situation and family medical history.
Cataract surgery will also be covered by Medicare Part B. In the following months after cataract surgery, Medicare will cover the cost of the artificial lens used to replace the lens affected by cataracts and the cost of the prescription glasses you will need after the operation.
In the case of birth defects, trauma, or surgical eye removal, Medicare Part B vision benefits cover eye prostheses. The polishing and resurfacing of vision prostheses will be covered up to twice a year. Medicare will also pay to replace lost or stolen prostheses.
Because most eye disease treatments are outpatient, you will have to meet your deductible before Medicare coverage kicks in. Some coverage parts, like glaucoma screenings and cataract surgery, will also have a coinsurance.
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What Vision Services May Be Covered By An Aetna Medicare Plan
If you enroll in an Aetna Medicare Advantage plan that includes vision coverage, the plan may cover:
- Annual eye exams
The costs associated with vision benefits may be included as part of your plans premiums or as an Optional Supplemental Benefit, which means you would pay an additional premium.
If your plan covers vision, the benefits may be available to you as either an allowance or via a provider network.
A plan allowance allows you to see any licensed vision care provider. You pay the provider for their services and submit a receipt to your plan for reimbursement up to the allowance amount.
A plan network requires you to see a vision care provider who is a part of the plan network to receive covered services.
Aetna Medicare Advantage plans cover all of the benefits and services that are covered by Medicare Part A and Part B. Aetna Medicare Advantage plans may also provide additional benefits such as coverage for:
- Prescription drugs
1 Freed M, et al. . Medicare Advantage in 2022: Enrollment Update and Key Trends. Kaiser Family Foundation. .
2 According to internal data from TZ Insurance Solutions in 2021.
Not all plans or products are available in all markets. Additional plans may be available in your service area.
The purpose of this communication is the solicitation of insurance. Contact will be made by an insurance agent/producer or insurance company.
Eyeglasses And Contact Lenses
Generally, Medicare doesn’t cover eyeglasses or contact lenses. However, following cataract surgery that implants an intraocular lens, Medicare Part B helps pay for corrective lenses .
Note: Medicare will only pay for contact lenses or eyeglasses provided by a supplier enrolled in Medicare, no matter who submits the claim .
All people with Part B are covered. Your costs in Original Medicare are:
- You pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for one pair of eyeglasses or one set of contact lenses after each cataract surgery with an intraocular lens.
- Medicare will only pay for contact lenses or eyeglasses from a supplier enrolled in Medicare, no matter who submits the claim .
- You pay any additional costs for upgraded frames.
- You pay 100% for non-covered services, including most eyeglasses or contact lenses. The Part B deductible applies.
Note: Some Medicare Advantage plans offer extra vision benefits. Be sure to contact the plan for more information.
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How Do I Budget For Vision Care
Start by having a conversation with your physician or healthcare provider about the costs of testing, services, glasses or contact lenses and potential surgeries. Having a better understanding of cost will help you budget for these items. Another alternative is to consider a Medicare Advantage plan, many of which include coverage for routine vision care, like eye exams and eyeglasses.
How Does Original Medicare Cover Optometry Services
As mentioned above, Original Medicare doesnt include benefits for routine eye exams or corrective lenses, and you pay 100 percent of the cost for these services and supplies yourself. However, Medicare Part B does cover the following services:
Diabetic retinopathy exams on an annual basis if you have diabetes. To be eligible for this benefit, you must have the exam done by an eye doctor who is licensed in your state, and who accepts Medicare assignments. Medicare pays for 80 percent of the cost, and you pay the remaining 20 percent along with your Part B deductible.
Glaucoma testing one time every 12 months if you are in the high-risk category. High-risk factors include having diabetes, a family history of glaucoma, being African American over 50 years old, or being Hispanic and over 65. To get this benefit, your healthcare provider must be licensed in your state and accept Medicare assignment. Medicare pays 80 percent of the final cost, and you pay the remaining 20 percent along with your Part B deductible.
If you have age-related macular degeneration, Medicare Part B covers some diagnostic tests and treatment, which can include certain injected drugs, for related eye diseases and conditions. Eligibility requirements and coverage percentages are the same as mentioned above.
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What Are Medically Necessary Eye Care Services
If you have been reading through your Medicare policy coverage Part A, Part B, Part C, Part D, and other coverages, you might have come across the term medically necessary. This term could be significant for a beneficiary if they were previously told that Medicare would not cover a surgery they needed. However, if, after further review, Medicare assesses your situation and determines that you need the surgery for your well-being, more often than not, they will help cover some of the costs for the procedure.
If a beneficiary already has glaucoma or degenerative eye disease, or cataracts, Medicare does not want these conditions to worsen. If Medicare determines that some of your eye procedures or surgeries are medically necessary, your Medicare Part B would be the one to help offset some of these procedures and surgeries.
Most people 65 years or older are eligible for premium-free Medicare Part A coverage. However, Part B is not free and has a premium associated with it. If youre looking to add a Part B policy to your Medicare Part A coverage, the monthly premium is based on the beneficiarys income the more you make, the more you pay.
In addition to paying a monthly premium for Part B coverage, remember that Part B also comes with a yearly deductible of $233 . There could also be a copay for outpatient services. When a bill comes in that falls into the Part B bucket, the beneficiary is responsible for 20%, and Part B picks up the remaining 80%.
What Are The Medicare Requirements To Cover Cataract Surgery
Cataract surgery is a safe and common procedure to remove the clouded lens of the eye. The first step is to make a very small incision in the cornea. Next, surgeons use either a manual method with an ultrasonic probe or a femtosecond laser to break up the cataract into tiny microscopic particles. This process is called phacoemulsification.
Afterward, an intraocular lens is inserted through this incision and carefully placed into its permanent position within the eye. The incision does not require stitches and heals quickly due to the natural outward pressure of the eye which keeps it tightly closed. The whole procedure usually takes only about 15 minutes and is done as an outpatient procedure.
Medicare covers cataract surgery if it is deemed to be medically necessary for a patients health. Standard cataract surgery is covered, with the option of being performed using traditional surgical techniques or lasers. It is important to note that Medicares coverage is only partial and subject to deductibles, copays, or coinsurance.
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