I finally got around to having an eye test and ordering some contact lenses. Much of this experience was identical or thereabouts to a visit to a British optician. I saw a man who used various standard ways to test my eyes. You know the drill - look up, look at my ear while I shine a light in your eye, can you read the bottom line, is this clearer or that? Then I used my insurance to cover the cost of the eye test, though not the complete contact lens test which cost me $55. I was a bit surprised about that as $55 is a bit more than I would have paid in the UK, where I didn't have insurance. What I wondered was the full price of the eye test?
Well today I found out because I got a sheet of paper from my insurer showing what had been spent in full. And sit down if you're British to read this. The full cost of a standard eye test and a contact lens test was nearly $300. That's just the test. The lenses were extra.
Are they mad?
If you're American and you're reading this, the reason I am incredulous is because having your eyes tested in the UK isn't part of the NHS unless you are a child, on benefits or elderly. I have never needed insurance for my eye examinations before because the cost of the test, with no subsidy, no NHS involvement, no insurance, is less than $50 (actually right now you can get a professional eye test at Boots the Chemist for £5 or $7.50). And I haven't noticed any opticians with begging bowls or sleeping on the streets. They make this work for them. They sell their frames and their contact lenses and so on and sometimes if you buy your lenses from them then you don't have to pay for the tests at all. So how is it that Americans have to pay nearly $300? What if you don't have insurance?
Oh and before you ask, this was a not particularly swish opticians or whatever you call them here, on Mission Street at the foot of Bernal Heights. I wasn't in Pacific Heights or even Noe Valley. And he really didn't do anything my Welsh optician didn't do.
Seriously. America. You are being had. Big time.