Ellen (ennienyc) wrote,

Eye yie yie

My last eye exam was a year and a half ago, so it was time to get checked. My contacts seem as good as they're going to get, but I wondered if my reading glasses could use updating. I've been reading a lot with the glasses and getting headaches. I woke up with one today. It wasn't helped by the carbon monoxide detector's low battery indicator squeaking every few minutes beginning at 6 a.m. Jiggling the battery and reinserting it quieted things down, and 2 Vanquishes quieted the headache down.

My old CIGNA insurance didn't cover vision care, and I have an inexpensive supplemental plan with a fixed schedule for contacts and discount for glasses. My new HIP plan covers a refraction exam with an optometrist for $15 copay (no referral necessary), and glasses from certain providers at $45 copay. The ODs at SUNY Optometry College (where I've gone for close to 20 years) are HIP providers, but the College dispensary is not listed as an eyeglass provider.

So I was worrying, should I continue getting glasses from the tried-and-true SUNY dispensary or go to some scary unknown HIP optician? And should I continue to just replace the lenses in the same ugly frames that no one normally sees (except they did this year at Stamford), or use the HIP opportunity to get new frames (since they cover that)?

This turned out to be moot. The intern did the usual workups and determined that my prescriptions for both contacts and reading glasses were fine as is. That point where they go, "Is this better, or this?" and you think they're all the same was my existing prescription. (Reminds me of a comic's joke that she dated an optometrist and in bed he'd ask, "Do you prefer this... or this?")

So what was the problem? Intern C thought it wasn't a question of power but of focus. I volunteered that I was reading more lately, usually lying on my back with the book held up. No no no, it's much better to read in a sitting position with the material half an arm's length away. She showed me how to do "pencil push-up" exercises to improve focus.

So no dispensary and no worries about new or old frames. But new worries about HIP. The contacts department billing person said it would be a $40 copay. What happened to the $15? The contact lens visit is considered a "specialist" and thus the higher copay. But if it's a specialist, did I need a referral?

When I got home, I called HIP and they claimed that an OD can't be a specialist, only an MD ophthalmologist, and furthermore, contacts are considered cosmetic and aren't covered. But this was the EXAM, which I have in the contact lens department because I'm a contacts wearer. I also get my glasses prescriptions there.

I have a feeling the claim will be denied and I'll be responsible for the balance, which won't be any different than when my insurance never covered vision care.

Literally wide-eyed, I walked out into absolutely blinding sunlight.

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