An out-of-network provider is one which has not contracted with your insurance company for reimbursement at a negotiated rate.
Many employers provide "Vision Benefits" to employees as an add-on to the total employee benefits package. Sometimes the employer pays for the premium, and sometimes the employee pays for the premium. Premiums looks small - a few dollars a week - and so employees think it's a good deal. But if you look more closely at these plans, you will see that they are not a great deal in most cases.
The best option is not to sign up for a vision benefit plan. But if you are already signed up,
or if your employer provides a vision benefit plan free of charge, there are some tricks to
getting the most out of it:
Set up your calendar with a reminder to make sure you use your benefit every year before the plan expires.
Use the free frame and lens benefit. The quality of the frame and lens will be low, but you did not pay much for it. The only problem here is that low quality frames and lenses don't last as long, and may cause you inconvenience.
If you want a better quality frame and/or need a better quality lens (possibly due to a higher prescription), then you will save money by shopping online and using the "Out of Network" benefit.
example, provides a massive selection of only high quality, guaranteed eyewear. Because prices are over 50% lower than typical optical stores, when you use your Out of Network benefit, you pay the lowest total amount.
If you wear contact lenses, the benefit is also substantial, and a better deal than getting a free frame.
We often hear from customers after year end that they forgot to use their FSA benefits. We recommend funding HSA (Health Savings Accounts) instead of FSA accounts, because HSA funds do not expire at the end of the year. Either way, BE SURE TO USE UP YOUR FSA funds before the end of the year, or lose them!