Have you had an eye exam lately? If you haven’t, you should consider making an appointment soon. You can maximize your health insurance benefits by scheduling a comprehensive eye exam or eye procedure before the end of the year.

What is a healthcare deductible?

One of the best ways to stretch your healthcare dollars is to schedule appointments and procedures after you meet your annual deductible. Your healthcare deductible is the amount you must pay for covered medical procedures before your insurance company begins to contribute.

Most deductibles reset on Jan. 1, so now is the time to evaluate whether you should schedule a comprehensive eye exam or cataract surgery. If you meet your deductible, your out-of-pocket responsibility for an elective eye procedure could be considerably less.

Reasons to visit your ophthalmologist before the year ends

Here are three reasons you should visit your ophthalmologist before the calendar year ends:

1. Make sure your prescription is updated.

Vision changes are usually gradual, so you probably will not notice if your vision is changing or getting blurry. Your ophthalmologist will check your visual acuity and assess whether your current prescription needs adjusting.

2. Maintain your eye health.

Are you experiencing eye pain, blurry vision, cloudy vision or dry eyes? These symptoms can be indicative of a chronic eye condition like glaucoma, cataracts or dry eye syndrome. Your doctor can make a diagnosis during a comprehensive eye exam and refer you to a specialist for further testing. Ignoring symptoms of eye disease can permanently affect your eyesight and lead to vision loss.

During a comprehensive eye exam, your doctor will examine you for eye diseases such as the following.

Cataracts: a clouding of the eye lens that will affect all adults as they age

Glaucoma: a family of eye diseases that affect the optic nerve

Macular degeneration: a condition that destroys a person’s sharp, central vision

3. Use your flexible spending account (FSA) dollars before they expire.

Using an FSA account is cost effective because you can use pre-tax dollars for approved healthcare procedures and products. These dollars will not roll over into next year, so you must “use them or lose them.” You can use FSA funds for new eyeglasses, contacts, prescription sunglasses or even cataract surgery.

Why you should schedule an eye procedure at an Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC)

If your ophthalmologist suggests you need to schedule an eye procedure or surgery, you can do so at an ambulatory surgery center (ASC). An ASC is a less-expensive option and offers exceptional patient care.

An ASC is often smaller than a hospital, which makes it easier to navigate, and it usually has convenient parking. In addition, most procedures at an ASC will be more cost effective because they don’t have all the overhead costs of a hospital. Finally, an ASC facility is dedicated to specific procedures like cataract surgery rather than emergency procedures, so your appointment is less likely to get delayed or rescheduled.

Make an appointment with an ophthalmologist

Have you met your deductible already? Schedule your procedure before the end of the year to take full advantage of your health plan’s benefits. Your deductible will reset soon, so contact your insurance company to verify your status.