After hearing about it for so long, is it time for you to get LASIK surgery? The results are undeniable: According to a study published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, people who got LASIK surgery reported higher levels of satisfaction and better night driving within three years after the surgery when compared with those wearing contact lenses. But the question remains: How do you pay for LASIK?
Paying for LASIK is another matter, however. The cost of the surgery can vary widely, from a few hundred dollars per eye to a few thousand dollars, with the average running about $2,500 per eye, according to the LASIK Vision Institute. And you can’t necessarily rely on insurance, so knowing how to pay for it is important.
“Unfortunately it’s usually considered an elective or cosmetic surgery, so most insurance companies don’t cover the cost,” said Sydney Ziverts, a health and nutrition investigator at ConsumerSafety.org, a website dedicated to consumer health and safety.
Here are some tips for paying for LASIK on your own.
Even if your insurance doesn’t cover LASIK, you can still check to see whether there are other options your insurance company might be able to swing for you.
“Although your insurance provider probably won’t cover the entire cost of the surgery, you may be able to receive a courtesy discount,” Ziverts said. “Many insurance companies will negotiate this discount with your LASIK provider.”
If your insurance is provided through your employer, ask your benefits manager or human resources director about an insurance discount, Ziverts said. If you have health insurance through an exchange, talk with a billing adviser at the clinic who may be able to send you in the right direction. In any case, explore these discounts before you schedule the surgery to avoid any confusion afterward.
FSA’s and HSA’s
Do you have a flexible spending account or health savings account at your work? Ziverts recommends that you use them to save for your LASIK.
“An FSA or other defined-contribution plan through your employer may be helpful in setting aside money in a nontaxable account to use for LASIK eye surgery,” Ziverts said.
If you haven’t used these accounts before, be aware that there are a few restrictions. FSAs have restrictions on how much money can be rolled over to the next year, so you’ll have to spend it down as the deadline approaches. HSAs roll over every year.
Finally, getting a third party to finance your LASIK surgery may help. “Many LASIK surgeons also offer financing options through financing companies, and others offer payment arrangements through their own office,” Ziverts said.
As you begin researching LASIK surgeons, ask about financing or payment. But ask those questions early in the process, Ziverts recommends.
“If a consumer waits too long to figure out how to pay for LASIK, they may end up being subjected to a financing plan with an undesirable interest rate as high as 22.99 percent,” Ziverts said. “Some companies advertise that loan approval can take place within just a few minutes, but folks should review whether or not these companies are reputable. Worst-case scenario, a patient may have to cancel the procedure if they’re not financially prepared.”
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