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2023 Vision Coverage Tips & Comparison: Health Insurance BC

As the year draws to a close, now is the perfect time to take a closer look at your vision benefits and make the most of them before they reset. But, before you can utilize them, you must first understand what kind of coverage you have, what it entails, understand your health insurance BC providers, and how to make the most of it! 

By utilizing your vision benefits before the end of the year, not only do you prioritize your eye health, but you also maximize the value of your insurance coverage. 

Ultimate BC Vision Insurance Guide

Let’s get the basics out of the way so we can get to the good stuff! Most provincial healthcare plans do not cover vision care unless the resident is under the age of 18 or 65 or older, after which routine eye examination fees are reimbursed (the North West Territories provincial healthcare plan is an exception).

Prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses, and other similar items are typically not covered by provincial insurance unless there is a medical issue that falls within the MSP guidelines.

An eye examination may be covered for any age if it is deemed “medically necessary” such as:

  • Ocular disease, trauma, or injury
  • Systemic diseases associated with significant ocular risk (e.g. diabetes)
  • Medications associated with significant ocular risk

So what does that mean for you if you live in BC? 

British Columbia Health Insurance Coverage 101

  • No coverage for routine eye examinations aged 19-64.
  • Partial coverage of eye exams that are medically required (e.g. a result of an eye disease, injury, or possible risk to the eyes from a disease like diabetes). Ask your doctor if an eye examination is medically necessary. 
  • Covers both ophthalmologists and optometrists.
  • Includes one full examination per year for children up to 18 years of age and partially covers individuals over 65 years of age.
  • No coverage for prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Does this mean you are without coverage? No! That is only what your province covers. If you or your spouse receive medical health insurance coverage through your employer, you have access to an additional, more comprehensive tier of benefits.

What Is the Best Vision Insurance?

British Columbia health insurance varies among providers, with vision coverage differences in offerings such as coverage limits and specific services covered.

This makes it essential for individuals to carefully compare plans to find the one that best aligns with their eye care needs and current coverage. 

health insurance BC

To help, we’ve broken down 5 of the most commonly used British Columbia health insurance providers.

2023 Comparison Chart: Best Health Insurance BC

Blue Cross Vision Coverage

PlanVisionVision Maximum
EntryUp to max$100/2 years
EssentialUp to max$150/2 years
EnhancedUp to max$300/2 years

CAA Vision Coverage

PlanVisionVision Maximum
Basic Extended /Drug 1/Dental 1Up to maxYear 1 & 2: $150/2 yearsYear 3 & 4: $200/2 yearsYear 5+: $250
Drug 2/Dental 2
Enhanced Extended /Drug 3/Dental 3Up to maxYear 1 & 2: $350/2 yearsYear 3 & 4: $400/2 yearsYear 5+: $450

Canada Life Vision Coverage

PlanVisionVision Maximum
Select100%$150/2 years
Select Plus100%$200/2 years
Select Elite100%$250/2 years

Costco Vision Coverage

PlanVisionVision Maximum
StarterUp to max$250/2 years
EssentialUp to max$300/2 years
EnhancedUp to max$300/2 years

Sun Life Vision Coverage

PlanVisionVision Maximum
Standard100% reimbursement$250/2 years, $50 eye exam/year
Enhanced100%$300/2 years, $50 eye exam/year
On November 1, 2023, this table was last updated. Keep in mind that this is only an overview. More information is available on their respective websites. Source: https://moneygenius.ca/insurance/health-insurance

REO has direct billing coverage for over 18+ different insurance companies! 

What Types of EyeWear Are Covered by Vision Benefits?

Now that you know what’s covered and what isn’t, let’s dive into how to maximize your benefit!

Can I Use My Vision Insurance to Buy Sunglasses?

Prescription sunglasses are typically covered by most vision insurance plans. In general, vision coverage is limited to devices that aid in the correction of your vision. However, some plans may also provide discounts for non-prescription eyewear purchased from in-network healthcare providers.

But instead of spending your coverage on prescription sunglasses, we recommend considering transition lenses which provide the best of both worlds.

Are Transition Lenses Better for Your Eyes?

Transition lenses shield the eyes from UV rays, keep them from becoming overly sensitive to light and have a blue blocker built into the lenses (which is important in avoiding digital eye strain, a handful of eye symptoms resulting from excessive time in front of digital screens).

health insurance BC

In addition, as we age, increased exposure to UV rays can also cause other problems, such as cataracts.

If that alone wasn’t reason enough, the positive lifestyle benefits make prescription eyeglasses with transition lenses an easy ‘yes.’ Check out these testimonials:

health insurance BC

“Spending a bit more to get transition coating is 100% worth it. When I go to a concert or sporting event in the summer, I don’t have to choose between wearing sunglasses and seeing the event I paid for.”

health insurance BC

“My transition lenses are so subtle I don’t even notice when they automatically darken in sunlight. I’ve startled myself at least five times when someone shows me a photo of me with darker lenses because I forgot they transitioned. It’s a game changer.”

health insurance BC

“The most important advice is to put on your sunglasses whenever you are outside and put them on your kids, please. Sunglasses are to the eyes what sunscreen is to the skin. Whether it’s cloudy or sunny, they are an essential shield to protect your health.”

Are Readers Covered by Vision Insurance?

Overall, reading glasses, like all other eyewear, are eligible for Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and Health Savings Account (HSA) coverage.

Get the Most Out of Your Vision Benefits With REO

Don’t let those unused benefits go to waste – schedule that eye exam you’ve been putting off, consider upgrading your eyewear or investing in transition lenses. 

At Real Eyes Optometry, we are all about patient-centric service, which means we truly take the time to ensure that each patient knows every part of the eye exam, how their eyes operate, treatment choices available to them, and recommended maintenance advice and products to keep their eyes looking and feeling their best. 

We welcome new patients of all ages, including families, at Real Eyes Optometry.

Still looking for more information? Check out this eye exam Metrotown comparison chart

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