Confused about the cost of LASIK? It’s understandable. After all, if you want to buy a mobile phone or a dining room table or an automobile, all you have to do is go online and do a search to compare prices.
With elective surgeries such as LASIK, solid price information is hard to find online, and the cost of LASIK eye surgery can vary quite a bit from one provider to another. Prices depend on what technology the surgeon uses, how much vision correction you need, how difficult your procedure is and more.
Here are average prices for LASIK and other excimer laser vision correction procedures (PRK, Epi-LASIK, LASEK) performed in the United States in 2015. These figures are based on an annual survey of refractive surgeons conducted by a leading vision care industry analyst.
Average LASIK Eye Surgery Cost
Keep in mind that these prices are for LASIK or other laser vision correction performed on one eye only. To estimate your cost of LASIK on both eyes, you need to double the price quoted.
Also, if you choose bladeless LASIK, where the corneal flap is created with a femtosecond laser instead of a microkeratome, expect to pay at least a couple hundred dollars more (per eye) than the average prices quoted here. The same is true if you choose custom LASIK that employs wavefront technology for the most precise vision correction possible.
In 2015, the average price for LASIK and other types of laser vision correction surgery was $2,077 per eye. This is slightly lower than the average price in 2014, which was $2,118 per eye.
More than 3 out of 4 refractive surgeons (78 percent) said they quote a single price for LASIK and other excimer laser-based procedures for all patients, according to a 2015 survey.
The other surgeons (22 percent) quote different prices depending on the technology used and/or the amount of refractive error and vision correction required by the patient.
Charging a single price means newer technologies such as customized wavefront procedures and laser-created flaps are not priced separately as “extras” that are charged in addition to a basic fee for a laser vision correction procedure.
Are Bargain Prices Available For LASIK?
It’s not unusual to see advertisements promising LASIK for less than $1,000 per eye, which may sound like a great bargain.
But it’s likely that:
- The “bargain” LASIK price is only for the correction of mild nearsightedness. If you have farsightedness, astigmatism, or moderate to high amounts of nearsightedness, the cost of LASIK may be significantly higher than the advertised price.
- The offer price doesn’t cover all fees. For instance, you may have only a limited number of follow-up visits, and if there’s a problem, additional post-op care could cost extra. Also, the cost of enhancement/retreatment surgeries probably are not included, and you may even be charged extra for your initial consultation.
- Your procedure may be performed with older technology. This isn’t necessarily bad, but newer technologies do offer the possibility of a more precise LASIK procedure, with less risk of complications. For example, for $499 you likely won’t receive custom LASIK or bladeless (all-laser) LASIK.
If you’re considering LASIK for an unusually low cost, make sure you get a written quote that itemizes everything in the offer. Read the fine print, and ask about all potential extra fees before going ahead with the procedure.
How To Make LASIK Surgery More Affordable
There are a number of ways to make the cost of LASIK more affordable.
Many eye care practices offer to finance for LASIK and other vision surgeries. Several financing companies specialize in elective surgical procedures like LASIK and offer plans with fixed rates and long-term payments. Most LASIK surgery centers and private medical practices offer financing plans administered by these companies to their patients.
Most vision insurance plans don’t cover refractive surgery because they consider it cosmetic and therefore medically unnecessary. However, some employers make arrangements with a given LASIK center (or refractive surgery center) for a special price.
Note that some large employers offer subsidized health plans that cover at least part of LASIK costs. If you work for a major company, ask about possible benefits that might cover elective corrective eye surgery procedures.
Also, Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are often used to pay for laser eye surgery. This is where you can divert pre-tax salary into an account for out-of-pocket health care if your employer offers it.
In 2016, the maximum employee contribution to an FSA was $2,550. So it’s likely you still will have to pay a portion of your LASIK surgery by other means if you use an FSA to help pay for your procedure.
Another option is to set tax-free money aside in a Health Savings Account (HSA) to pay for LASIK surgery. To be eligible for an HSA, you must be covered by a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) at work.
You can add tax-free contributions to your HSA each pay period, up to an annual limit of $3,350 for individual coverage and $6,750 for family coverage (2016 limits). And, unlike an FSA, any unspent money in your HSA at the end of the year “rolls over” so you can use it the following year or sometime further in the future.
So, depending on your budget, you could save enough money to pay the entire cost of your LASIK surgery by contributing money to your HSA over a period of two or more years.
If you’re in the U.S. military, LASIK and other corrective vision surgery options may be available to you free of charge. Your eligibility would depend at least partly on the nature of your duties.
A final note: You may be tempted to choose a surgeon based only on the fee charged, but that may be unwise. It’s better to choose the best surgeon you can find and then, if you need it, get the most affordable financing you can.