I Got a Black Eye Dealing With my Vision Insurer and Costco Optical

I have vision insurance through Aetna Vision although the actual administrators are done through EyeMed, located in Mason, OH.


Over the last four months, I’ve had to send in three separate out of network claim forms. During the latest call, EyeMed claims my forms were missing information. One other time, the forms were never received. At some point when having challenging issues with an insurance provider at some point, you pick up the phone.

While speaking with Dan, EyeMed’s vision care representative, I’m reviewing my Explanation of Benefits which includes date of service, itemized charges, and service codes to help clarify. I received codes, V2781, V2025 and V2702 which to me is a foreign language. I politely asked Dan if he could explain what each of those codes represent and he sheepishly stated that he didn't know what each code represented so I’m thinking he’s either new or there’s some management challenges in the call center.


The conversation with Dan continued and I ask him about the bundled charge for Costco. Said differently, the lens charge includes several additional options so the bill from Costco doesn't individually include the prices for scratch-resistant lenses, UV protection, and anti-glare protection. Dan suggested I call Costco to get them itemized, if unsuccessful, I will only receive partial reimbursement. Out of curiosity, I asked him he’s heard of such an issue with his claims’ colleagues about Costco bundling lens charges and he claimed he had never heard of this issue before.


At this point, I suspect I'm being squeezed by my insurance provider.

I called the local Costco Vision in Mettawa, IL two separate times and once spoke to the manager and the other time to another employee who both stated Costco has been bundling lens charges for years. Neither of them had ever received any push-back from insurers on a bundled lens charge. I also called the corporate Costco office and several associates stated the same thing so I end up being squeezed between a rock and a hard place. It's about $50 that I'll be unable to recoup, not a great sum but the principle here was my driving force.


As much as I like the strong operational culture at Costco, it’s certainly a disappointment with their vision changes. It appears this was a companywide initiative – perhaps from the corporate offices. It’s impossible to guess how many customers are impacted by this. Were Costco customers informed before the bundling policy change? Did Costco consider the potential insurance impact of the change? I certainly hope they did what’s best for Costco and their Members. My gut says that Costco and EyeMed know more than they’re saying but at the same time I may have the good fortune to be among the first to bring it to their attention.


For now, I’ll keep my vision coverage through EyeMed as I'm already enrolled for 2020 but next year is a different question. For this year, I will need to seek out another glasses provider who will itemize all vision charges. Who could have imagined the amount of work I've done in the effort to get the money due to me? My vision coverage may be competitively priced but is it a good value when I spent more than a handful of hours trying to get this resolved without ultimate success? Moving forward, I will bypass Costco's vision department but will not 'throw the baby out with the bathwater' so I'll continue to value the other services and products they provide.


Writer’s Note: Just to be clear, I’m grateful that I can carry vision insurance through my former employer so I realize to some this may be a trivial matter complaining about losing the $50 in the process but that's not the point. It's not the money lost or the amount of time spent investigating this but rather the principle of the matter which motivated me to share my challenging experience with my readers.

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