Medicare is government health insurance for senior citizens (or younger, provided the patient has certain disabilities). Since one of the problems of advanced age is weakened vision, one would reasonably expect that insurance for seniors would cover prescription eyeglasses. That is not necessarily the case, as many seniors requiring glasses quickly find out.
Medicare Part A and Part D
•Medicare Part A does not cover eyeglasses at all, prescription or otherwise. Since Medicare Part A is primarily a hospital insurance, it shouldn’t be surprising that it doesn’t cover prescription eyeglasses. Medicare Part D also does not cover prescription eyeglasses because it is a prescription drug plan.
Medicare Part B
•Medicare Part B is medical insurance that does provide limited coverage for eyeglasses. It will pay for one pair of glasses, but only if you have had cataract surgery that required lenses be implanted in your eye and an ophthalmologist or an optometrist prescribes eyeglasses for you. You pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount and the Part B deductible ($135 as of 2009) applies. It also covers only standard frames.
Medicare Part C Medicare Advantage Plan
•If you get Medicare coverage through Medicare Part C Medicare Advantage Plan, rather than through the more common Medicare Part A and Part B, you can get coverage for eyeglasses. Since this plan is an HMO or managed-care plan, some of them offer broader coverage, which may cover eyeglasses. Contact your plan’s administrator to find out about your particular plan’s coverage.