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Most health insurance plans do not cover LASIK surgery. Most health insurance companies deem laser eye surgery an elective procedure — meaning not medically necessary. Neither Medicare nor Medicaid pay for elective eye surgery like LASIK surgery.
Some larger vision insurance carriers offer laser vision correction benefits, including discounts on laser vision correction procedures with specific providers and frame benefits for non-prescription sunglasses after vision correction surgery. UnitedHealthcare vision insurance offers its members 35% off LASIK at over 900 locations.
While the procedure is not likely to be covered by insurance, health insurance may cover the cost of certain prescription medications used in after-care following the procedure. These include prescription antibiotics and steroid eye drops.
There are some special circumstances when LASIK surgery can be certified as medically necessary and thus covered by health insurance. Suppose a traumatic injury requires surgery to save an eye's vision, and LASIK surgery is the only option. In that case, a physician can certify it as medically necessary. And if an initial LASIK surgery, done for cosmetic reasons, created a vision problem, and a physician certifies that LASIK surgery is the only remedy, it will be deemed medically necessary and covered by insurance.
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The average cost of LASIK surgery in the United States is approximately $2,200 per eye or $4,400 for both.
LASIK's price has remained stable for the past ten years, while other economic factors have risen. It is estimated that today's LASIK is approximately 20-30 percent less expensive than it was just ten years ago.
There may be additional out-of-pocket costs after LASIK surgery. Patients may need to purchase artificial tears for a couple of months post-surgery, which are not covered by insurance.
The cost of LASIK depends on each eye's specific needs, the particular procedure, the technology used, the provider, and the follow up needed.
The factors in the cost of LASIK eye surgery include:
The cost may include the initial LASIK consultation; however, this service is provided for free at most LASIK practices. The price may not include pre- and post-op visits. If there is a problem that requires additional care, it may cost extra. Patients considering LASIK should get a written cost estimate that itemizes everything in the offer. Patients should read the fine print and ask about all potential additional fees before going ahead with the procedure.
Conventional LASIK, which involves using a laser or blade to make a corneal flap, is typically the most affordable type of laser refractive surgery. In most cases, it also requires the least recovery time.
Typically, only those with straightforward prescriptions (low nearsightedness) and vision correction requirements are eligible for the most basic and least expensive LASIK procedures – called conventional LASIK. Generally, farsighted people and those with astigmatism aren't good candidates for traditional LASIK.
Here are the different types of LASIK surgery available and their average costs per eye:
Like any goods or services, LASIK costs more in a metropolitan area with a higher living cost. The average price of LASIK is $1,883 per eye in New York, $1,631 per eye in Texas, and $1,521 in California.
Some individual clinics offer discounts and special offers for LASIK surgery. While there are promotions for very inexpensive LASIK, most people don’t qualify for the procedure provided at that deeply discounted price.
Many surgical practices offer financing plans to help patients pay their portion of the cost of a laser surgery procedure. There are affordable interest rates and payment plans for those who qualify.
Many employers offer flexible spending accounts or health savings accounts (FSA or HSA) that offer a tax-free way to save for the procedure. LASIK is a qualified medical procedure for using FSA or HSA funds. Using FSA or HSA funds saves money overall on taxes.
Most people who have LASIK achieve 20/20 vision. Over 95% of people who've had the procedure say they are pleased with the results.
However, although most patients are satisfied with LASIK surgery outcomes, a small number of patients are not.
LASIK surgery is not without its risks. LASIK can cause side effects, including dry eye, itching, and burning, affecting 20% to 40% of people who have the procedure. LASIK may also cause patients to experience glare and halos around lights at night. These symptoms typically last for a month or two after the procedure.
In a small number of cases, LASIK may not be effective in completely correcting vision. Some people will still need glasses or contact lenses after surgery, especially in low-light conditions and as they age. Those who don't achieve full vision correction can return to their doctor for an additional procedure. Rarely, people who've had LASIK can lose vision due to infection, scarring, or poor healing.
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