People these days are spending a great deal of time indoors, with their eyes constantly glued to their tablet devices and computer screens. This lifestyle trend in part helps explain the surge in vision conditions worldwide. This is especially true for myopia (short-sightedness), which is due to affect 5 million Singaporeans by 2050 – 15% of which will have an eye prescription above 500 degrees.
Singapore’s Asian counterparts have also been found to be heading towards a myopia epidemic. For example, 81% of teenagers in China have myopia, and 95% of school leavers in Taiwan require glasses to see into the distance. As such, the importance of maintaining eye health has been increasingly put into the spotlight.
One of the key ways of ensuring good eye health is to have regular eye exams. There is no set price charged for eye tests, but some opticians in Singapore do charge a pretty penny, especially for more comprehensive eye checks.
Although more thorough eye tests can be costly, it can’t be stressed enough how important it is to go beyond simply checking how well you can see so that early signs of more serious conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts are detected early. Fortunately, vision insurance can be a great way to cover the expensive costs associated with optical care.
The high cost of vision treatment in Singapore
Ranked as the most expensive city for expats, it’s not hard to see why healthcare costs are so high in the city, especially for the majority of expats that don’t have access to the Medisave social security system available to the city-state’s permanent residents and citizens. While you can find fairly affordable basic eye exams in Singapore, more comprehensive tests can cost a fair bit.
As can be expected, more extensive vision treatment such as eye surgeries will cost a lot more than eye tests or buying a new pair of corrective glasses. For example, LASIK surgery at a private hospital can charge up to SGD 4,820, and glaucoma surgery can cost up to SGD 6,693. Feel free to refer to the Ministry of Health website for further information on costs.
While these fees certainly are expensive, those who have secured vision insurance are able to offset some of its associated costs without breaking the bank.
An overview of how vision insurance works
Usually, people secure vision insurance as a supplementary benefit to make up for the gaps in coverage in their standard private health insurance plan. This add-on benefit, commonly referred to by insurers as a ‘rider’, will come with its own additional premium, the cost of which will depend on the plan you select and how comprehensive the benefits offered are.
If you choose to include coverage for your spouse or children, the average cost you pay per person often works out to be a bit less than the rate charged for an individual plan. Some insurers also offer standalone plans that feature mostly vision benefits, so it’s best to shop around to find which option suits you and/or your family best.
What’s normally covered?
Those who secure vision insurance can expect coverage for routine eye check-ups, frames, and contact lenses. These will be covered up to a maximum amount, and some plans will also impose a co-pay system, whereby there will be an amount that you will need to pay for accessing every optical service covered by the plan.
More comprehensive vision plans will also provide coverage for eye disorders and eye surgeries deemed medically necessary. Elective surgeries like LASIK are generally not covered, although many plans offer discounts for these types of procedures, so you’ll be able to pay a lower rate. You may also receive discounts for upgrades on frame lenses, e.g. anti-reflective coating.
Things to consider when choosing a vision insurance plan
Many people make the mistake of thinking that they are covered for everything, just because they have health insurance. All plans are different, and some plans offer a more comprehensive list of benefits than others.
This is why it’s essential to be familiar with the policy wording on your plan, and be aware of any caveats or exclusions. It can also help to talk to a broker like Pacific Prime Singapore if you’re still unsure about your plan’s limitations.
To help you find the best-fitting plan for your needs, here are a few questions you may want to ask when finding a plan:
Is there a preferred network of providers?
A preferred network of providers refers to the facilities that are contracted with your plan. If the answer to the question is yes, then it’s a good idea to check if the optometrist or ophthalmologist that you visit regularly is included in the network, as your claim will likely be rejected out right if you chose a facility outside of the plan’s network.
What’s the benefit period?
Vision insurance runs on a rolling cycle. What this means is that certain benefits can only be accessed once per a certain duration of time, i.e. one eye check every 12 months. However, the benefit period on some plans can be as long as 24 months. To ensure you get your money’s worth, be sure to access the benefits covered before the next benefit period begins.
Does the vision plan have a waiting period?
To prevent people from having an expensive procedure right after they have secured insurance, some insurers will impose a waiting period on plans. The waiting period, which usually lasts anywhere between 1 month to 24 months, is the time you will need to wait once you have purchased your plan before you are eligible for claiming any benefits.
Everyone’s vision needs are different, and there are no one-size-fits-all plans out there. That is why it often pays to have an expert’s opinion by getting in touch with an established broker like Pacific Prime Singapore so that you get the best value plan for your needs.