Eye care is a major concern for many older adults. As you reach retirement age, you’re more likely to experience issues related to vision. If you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on eye care, you’ll want to make sure that you’re covered. So, does Medicare cover eye care? Read on to find out.

How Original Medicare Approaches Eye Care

Generally speaking, eye care does not fall under the purview of Original Medicare. With Original Medicare, you cannot get annual eye exams, eyeglasses, or contact lens prescriptions. That said, Medicare Part B does cover some services related to eye care if you meet certain criteria, have vision-related risk factors, or suffer from specific conditions.

Eye Care Coverage with Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C)

Many Medicare Advantage plans offer vision coverage that goes beyond what Original Medicare will cover. However, it’s important that every Medicare Advantage plan is a little different. Some provide eye care coverage, while some do not. Additionally, some plans that cover eye care charge a little more as part of the monthly premium, while others include eye care at no extra cost.

The same rule applies to the type of coverage you receive. Some Medicare Advantage plans pay for the full cost of eyeglasses, while others only pay a fraction of the cost. Annual eye exams are covered if you have a Medicare Advantage plan that offers eye care. However, the number of times that you can visit the optometrist per year and still be covered will vary by plan. 

As a reminder, Medicare Advantage provides for general plan types:

  • Health maintenance organization (HMO) plans
  • Special needs plans (SNPs)
  • Preferred provider organization (PPO) plans
  • Private fee-for-service (PFFS) plans

The degree of vision care you get with your Medicare Advantage plan will depend on the type of plan you choose, your provider, as well as the state in which you reside.

Eye Care Services Covered by Medicare

Though Original Medicare does not cover standard eye care or annual exams, it will generally cover eye care (under Part B) in the following circumstances:

  • If you have been diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy
  • If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma OR if you have any of the following risk factors:
    • Diabetes
    • Family history of glaucoma
    • African-American aged 50 or older
    • Hispanic aged 65 or older
  • If you have been diagnosed with — or if your doctor suspects that you have — macular degeneration
  • If your doctor suspects that you may have cataracts
  • If you require care for eye injuries

Remember, even if you fall within one of the categories listed above, you will still need to pay your Part B premium and annual deductible before Medicare will cover any eye care. Once you’ve paid your deductible, Original Medicare will cover 80% of the cost, while you will need to pay the remaining 20%.

How Can Time for 65 Help?

While Original Medicare does not provide much eye care, you can get vision coverage with a Medicare Advantage plan. That said, no two Medicare Advantage plans are exactly alike. Be sure to consult your provider to ensure that you’re getting the vision coverage you need! 

If you’d like to learn more about eye care under Medicare or your Medicare coverage options, or if you are curious to know what else does Medicare cover, feel free to fill out this form or give us a call anytime. Time for 65’s partnered licensed agents are focused on giving you the information you need, with zero pressure to enroll in a plan.