How Much Does LASIK Eye Surgery Cost? How to Get it for Less
Are you tired of constantly adjusting your glasses? Would you like to turn back the clock to a time when you didn’t have to wear contact lenses? If so, you’ve probably considered having laser eye surgery.
LASIK eye surgery has been FDA approved since 1999. LASIK standards continue to evolve as knowledge changes and new technologies develop, making it more popular than ever. To date, surgeons have performed over 20 million LASIK procedures.
But there is a lot of competing information on the internet about LASIK eye surgery costs. It’s difficult to find the answers to all the questions in one place. In this article, we’ll discuss what LASIK is, learn what to expect if you decide to go under the laser, and definitively answer questions like, “How much does LASIK eye surgery cost?” and “Does insurance cover LASIK?”
What is LASIK Eye Surgery?
LASIK stands for laser in situ keratomileusis. It’s an eye surgery that uses a laser to reshape your cornea, which helps correct refractive disorders that cause you to need glasses. There are three types of refractive errors that cause blurry vision: myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. Myopia, or nearsightedness, makes it difficult to see objects that are distant. Hyperopia, also called farsightedness, makes it difficult to see things that are close up. Astigmatism causes your vision to be distorted.
LASIK can correct all three disorders, as well as a combination of disorders. To ensure that LASIK surgery will be a success, you’ll need to meet a certain range of vision criteria, such as having a suitable corneal curvature, corneal thickness, and pupil size. These measurements change as you get older, which means younger patients often have better results.
What to Expect During Your LASIK Surgery
Once you’ve passed your pre-op assessment, the technician will place a topical anesthetic into each eye. This medication creates a numbing effect to ensure that you don’t feel any discomfort during the procedure. Your eyes must remain open throughout the surgery. To accomplish this, the technician will use special tape and insert an eyelid speculum, which is a medical tool that keeps your eyelid open. Next, your surgeon will calibrate the laser and mark your cornea for alignment.
The surgeon will make an incision into your cornea to create a flap. Once the flap is folded back, the laser (plus a mixture of reactive gases like chlorine and fluorine) is used to vaporize a portion of your cornea, reshaping it to the predetermined dimensions.
Fortunately, this part only takes a few seconds. Once the flap is closed, it quickly self-heals. Sterile salve or eyedrops laced with antibiotics are applied and you’re finally allowed to close your eyes. The entire LASIK procedure for both eyes takes less than half an hour. After the operation, you’ll need to cover your eyes with very dark glasses or eye covers. You’ll follow up with an appointment to see your eye surgeon in about two weeks.
How Much Does LASIK Eye Surgery Cost?
According to the American Council for Refractive Surgery, the cost of LASIK surgery may be between $1,000 and $3,000 per eye. The amount you pay for LASIK depends on several factors:
- Your prescription: The worse your vision is, the more it may cost to correct.
- The type of LASIK procedure you have: Traditional LASIK, which uses a blade and is an older way of doing the procedure, may cost less than the updated “all laser” (no blade) LASIK.
- The type of technology: Surgeries performed using older equipment may cost less. Newer lasers may cost more.
- New techniques: Wavefront LASIK (Custom LASIK) may cost more.
- LASIK surgeon: Choosing a more skilled surgeon could cost more.
- LASIK provider: A newer facility with upgraded services may cost more.
Does Insurance Cover LASIK?
The short answer is: not usually. Most health insurance companies don’t cover LASIK, as they consider it to be an elective procedure. Some vision insurance plans do offer a one-time discount of $100 to $200 or a specific percentage off the total cost. Two vision plans that offer discounts, for example, are United Health Golden Rules, which offers an unspecified discount on “laser eye surgery” or “laser vision correction” and Direct Vision Insurance, which also offers an unspecified discount specifically on LASIK eye surgery. Plans like Aetna’s Vision Preferred offer 15% off procedures performed using the U.S. Laser Network.
Financing Your LASIK Procedure
Applying for credit with a LASIK financing company like CareCredit is fast and easy. Since the approval and the interest rate you’ll pay are based on creditworthiness, you might want to check your credit scores before you apply. Some LASIK providers offer in-house financing and payment plans. Other financing options may include “buy now pay later” services like Klarna, Splitit, and AfterPay.
Using Your HSA/FSA to Pay for LASIK
The IRS allows you to set aside pre-tax dollars in a health care account that you can use to pay qualified medical expenses. With a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA), you can send money directly from your paycheck to your savings account. As long as you follow the rules of your plan, you’ll owe no taxes on the money you save. Most HSA/FSA accounts provide members with a debit card so that they can easily use their savings to purchase covered goods and services. Contact your plan administrator to learn more about your specific plan.
If you have a health savings account or flexible spending account, you can use the funds you’ve saved to pay for your LASIK eye surgery since it’s a qualified health care expense.
How to Get the Best Price on LASIK
Regardless of the published ballpark estimate of the cost of LASIK surgery, the only way to know for sure that you are getting the best deal is to compare prices online. The price comparison tool at Compare.com is the fastest way to see prices from health care providers near you.
All you need to do is enter your ZIP code and a little information about your procedure, then schedule an appointment with an eye doctor and determine whether you’re a good candidate for LASIK. Many providers offer free LASIK consultations.
While there, get answers to all of your questions about the cost of LASIK surgery, specific eye care costs, insurance coverage, financing plans, payment options, and anything else that might affect your final bill.