Most health insurance companies do not cover LASIK eye surgery because it is considered an elective procedure, not an essential surgery. However, some health insurance plans or vision insurance plans do offer benefits that can significantly help to reduce the costs of LASIK surgery and other vision correction procedures. Additionally, you can use flexible spending accounts (FSAs) or health savings accounts (HSAs) to further reduce the out-of-pocket cost of laser eye surgery.
If you’ve spent much of your life dealing with contact lenses and eyeglasses, you might be ready for a change. Between the expenses of contacts and glasses, the solutions and accessories, and the constant need to remember where you put those darn glasses, you might want to get consider kicking all that to the curb and having your vision corrected through LASIK surgery.
LASIK eye surgery is a relatively quick and easy procedure and normally produces excellent results. But it’s natural to wonder: How much is this going to cost me? Before we discover exactly how health or vision insurance can help pay for LASIK, let’s first take a quick look at exactly what the LASIK surgery procedure entails.
What is laser vision correction surgery?
LASIK (an acronym for laser in-situ keratomileusis) is a treatment used to help patients with medical conditions such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), or astigmatism to drastically improve their vision. LASIK eye surgery has been around since 1996 and the techniques have improved immensely since then, making it an even safer and more effective procedure.
Before anyone takes a laser to your eyeballs, the surgeon will carefully evaluate your overall eye health to make sure you are a good candidate for the procedure. There are many factors that could cause you to be ineligible for laser vision correction, and your eye doctor will go over these with you.
If you are approved for the procedure, the process involves reshaping the cornea (the clear, front part of the eye). This reshaping allows light traveling through the cornea to properly reach the retina, which is at the back of the eye. It’s a relatively quick and painless reshaping process with most patients showing improved vision function within 24 hours. There are occasional side effects such as dry eyes or seeing haloes, but symptoms tend to quickly resolve on their own.
In some cases, there can be complications with LASIK, but those situations are rare and often rectified. However, as with any surgery, there are certain risks to be aware of that your surgeon will explain to you.
Does health insurance cover LASIK surgery?
As mentioned previously, most health insurance plans do not specifically cover laser vision correction, but some may offer benefits or discounts that can help lower the costs of LASIK. In fact, you may be able to get as much as 50% off your LASIK eye surgery depending on your particular insurance plan.
Talk to your human resource manager at work, who should know the ins and outs of your plan, or your insurance provider for more details. The total costs of the surgery will vary depending on the type of surgery needed, your insurance plan details, and where you have the procedure done.
Does vision insurance cover LASIK surgery?
Aside from health insurance, some vision plans may also help to cover some of the costs of LASIK eye surgery. The discount for the procedure is usually a perk on top of coverage that pays for your annual eye exams and contacts or eyeglasses. In fact, the cost of adding vision insurance to your existing health plan may be less expensive than paying for the surgery itself.
Keep in mind that you probably won’t be able to combine both health and vision benefits to pay for LASIK eye surgery. Because of this, be sure to speak with your eye doctor’s office and your insurance company to see which option can save you the maximum amount of money.
How much does LASIK surgery cost?
According to the American Refractive Surgery Council (RSC), the national average of LASIK surgery is $4,200 for both eyes. However, each eye is different and that may affect the cost per eye.
There are a few factors that will impact the cost of laser vision correction. These can include an individual’s prescription, the thickness of the cornea, pupil size, overall eye health, as well as the general health of the LASIK candidate. All of these considerations will help to determine the safest laser technique to perform the surgery — such as if you can go with traditional LASIK or if you need a more custom approach.
When determining the exact cost of the LASIK surgery, be sure to look for any hidden fees or expenses. Many practices will provide a flat fee per eye and that should include everything from your initial free LASIK consultation to the surgery and follow-up visits.
Beware of heavily discounted offers. While the price might seem great at first, there might be extra expenses not included in the quote.
For example, say you see a price of $500 per eye. Sounds great, right? However, there may be a charge for the first visit, the follow-ups may not be included, and there could be other hidden fees. Just be aware, do your research, ask questions, read the quote thoroughly, and don’t forget the fine print.
FSA or HSA for laser vision correction
FSAs (flexible spending arrangements) and HSAs are very similar in that they are both accounts funded with your pre-tax dollars used to pay for qualifying medical care. These are great for the consumer because it lowers your taxable income, which saves you money on income taxes. These accounts can help cover qualified medical expenses not covered by your insurance company.
The Internal Revenue Service has limits on how much money your HSA or FSA can hold — $3,600 a year for an HSA and $2,750 for an FSA. However, LASIK eye surgery is considered a qualifying medical expense, so you can use that tax-free money to help pay for your LASIK surgery.
This is a great option for those interested in laser eye surgery, and the only drawback is that it may take just a little more planning on your part. Luckily, because LASIK surgery is an elective procedure, you should have plenty of time to plan ahead. Keep in mind that FSAs and HSAs cannot be used for medical expenses that were incurred before you set up the account, so make sure you have the savings account in place prior to scheduling your surgery.
Other financing options for Lasik eye surgery
If you’ve exhausted your insurance options, FSAs, or other health savings accounts, there are a few other ways to finance your laser vision correction procedure.
Payment plans from LASIK clinics
Many LASIK procedure practices will offer financing plans for patients, often at very affordable interest rates. Sometimes patients even pay 0% interest, which is more common with in-house financing.
Alternatively, the vision center may use third-party financing. But even with this option, you’re still probably looking at interest rates well below the average high-interest credit card, for instance. If this option is available, it’s a great way to take some time to pay off your surgery while saving on interest at the same time.
If you don’t have insurance discounts to cover LASIK, another option is to take out a small personal loan to pay for the procedure. If you have excellent credit, you may be able to qualify for a loan with competitive interest rates.
To ensure you find the best interest rates for your credit score, type your credit score into the tool below and compare your options.
You may not feel comfortable plunking down your high-interest credit card to pay for your LASIK surgery, but you do have other choices.
For example, you could apply for a credit card with a 0% introductory rate for up to two years. This way you have some time to pay off your credit card before those high interest rates kick in. Take a look at the credit cards below to find the right introductory offer.
Are contact lenses bad for the environment?
Yes. Many people think nothing of tossing a tiny pair of contacts down the sink or toilet, but it’s not healthy for the environment. Contact lenses are not biodegradable and the microbes they encounter in water treatment plants cause them to break down further into microplastics, which marine life often mistake for food.
Unfortunately, these microplastics are not digestible. This results in further problems not only for the fish but also for other creatures that ingest them, right on up to humans. Furthermore, it’s not just the contacts that get thrown away. It’s also the packaging they come in, which just creates even more waste.
Does LASIK go towards my insurance deductible?
No. LASIK is considered cosmetic surgery and is not covered by traditional health insurance. Instead, LASIK benefits are a discount program that falls outside of your insurance plan’s deductibles and co-payments.
Is LASIK worth the money?
If you’re one of the millions of Americans who struggle with both contacts and eyeglasses on a daily basis, you’re already spending a ton of money on vision correction.
Let’s say, conservatively speaking, you’re paying out-of-pocket costs of $400 a year on glasses and corrective lenses, plus the equipment that goes along with them. That means you could break even on the cost of surgery in about 10 years. If you can use insurance coverage and a medical savings account, you might see that break-even point in less than five years.
Are LASIK costs tax-deductible?
Even though LASIK is considered cosmetic and not a medical necessity, the IRS still counts it as a qualified procedure. This means you can claim your out-of-pocket costs as a deduction on your income taxes.
- Because LASIK is an elective surgery and is not considered medically necessary, most insurance companies won’t cover it as part of their normal plans.
- Health or vision insurance may offer discounts or benefit programs that will help pay for the cost of LASIK surgery or other types of laser vision correction procedures.
- The average cost of LASIK surgery is $4,200 for both eyes according to the RSC. However, each eye may come with different costs depending on varying conditions.
- Discounts from vision or health insurance companies, combined with money from an FSA or health savings account, can significantly reduce the cost of laser vision correction surgery.
- Since LASIK surgery and other types of laser vision correction are considered elective surgery, you have the time to save your money or look into alternative ways to cover LASIK surgical expenses.
View Article Sources
- LASIK Cost: A Complete Guide — American Refractive Surgery Council
- Health Savings Accounts and Other Tax-Favored Health Plans — IRS
- LASIK Eye Surgery — Mayo Clinic
- How to Comparison Shop Your Health Plan — SuperMoney
- What Does FSA Eligible Mean? — SuperMoney
- Are Medical and Dental Expenses Tax Deductible? — SuperMoney
- What is Guest Medical Coverage? — SuperMoney
- What Does Life Insurance Cover? — SuperMoney
- Bestow — SuperMoney