Insurance Companies: Do They Cover LASIK?
Elective Surgery vs. Other Types of Surgery
Many health companies consider LASIK an "elective" procedure, meaning your life does not necessarily depend on having the treatment. Elective procedures are typically procedures that are optional, nice to have done, but not medically necessary. Many different types of procedures are elective from preventative surgeries to cosmetic treatments and more.
One of the first things you’ll want to do if you’re considering LASIK is to talk with your insurance company. Ask them if LASIK is considered “elective”. If so, ask if any of the procedure is covered. While most insurance companies do not cover elective treatments, some companies will offer a portion of coverage, especially if your doctor feels you need the surgery. This coverage, often offered by larger corporations, is usually an indemnity plan.
Don't forget to ask your doctor if your LASIK surgery might qualify as medically necessary. Many procedures that were once called "cosmetic" are now labeled necessary, and if that is the case your insurance should help you out.
Times When LASIK May Be Medically Necessary
While LASIK is often considered an elective procedure, there are times when it may be medically necessary. These include:
- Surgery to correct vision problems caused by an injury.
- LASIK for patients that can’t wear glasses or contacts.
- LASIK to correct vision problems caused by surgery.
- LASIK to correct very severe vision problems (the definition of very severe varies from insurance company to insurance company).
Talk with your doctor and find out if your LASIK surgery will be considered cosmetic or medically necessary.
LASIK Insurance Guidance
If you have any type of healthcare policy, you should contact your benefits coordinator and find out what exactly is and is not covered. You can ask your company questions regarding the amount of coverage offered, what procedures may be covered, and how much you will have to pay whether you use an in-network or out-of-network healthcare provider.
Costs of LASIK Surgery
When talking about surgery it is important you pay attention to the costs associated with LASIK, because not all companies charge the same price for various procedures. Usually you can expect to pay $1000 to $2600 for each eye depending on the complexity of the surgery
While for many this may not seem like much, for others this can be an unreasonable price. For this reason many people decide to have LASIK surgery performed when an ophthalmologist or surgeon has "special rates". Just be sure if you plan to take advantage of a service like this, you first find out what exactly the special rate includes, and how well the doctor providing the service performs. You will want to check references to make sure you pay for quality surgery. Saving a few dollars isn’t worth ruining your vision or taking risks with your sight.
Getting LASIK Without Insurance
If you don't have insurance coverage, there are still many ways you can finance your surgery and work with a good LASIK eye surgeon. Many companies now offer financing for "elective" procedures, which may include various LASIK procedures. Some surgeons offer their patients "discounted" plans that lower the costs associated with paying for surgery out-of-pocket.
Other financing options may also be available. Some people find that they can get great interest rates by taking out a loan from their bank. When you finance outside of the surgery center you may have more options available. Some surgeons limit the types of LASIK procedures covered by discount plants; if you pay for the surgery yourself and finance through your bank you may have more options available to you both in the types of procedures received and the surgeons performing the treatment.
Another potential option for financing LASIK, especially if you’ll only need financing short-term, is a credit card. Many credit card companies offer introductory rates that are often lower than interest rates on conventional loans. These rates are typically short term and may only last a few months. If you choose to use a credit card to pay for LASIK make sure you have a plan in advance about how you’ll pay the procedure off before the interest rates skyrocket.
If your insurance plan includes a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), Health Savings Account (HSA) or other similar type feature you may be able to pay for your LASIK surgery using these benefits. These plans allow you to put aside money (tax free) for medical expenses. Since the amount left in the accounts can expire at the end of the year, LASIK is a great way to use up extra benefits. Find out if this option is available to you. While you will have to pay for the procedure yourself, an FSA or HSA can save you money.
If all else fails, ask your doctor for payment plan options. You may find you are able to pay a small monthly fee with a finance charge to compensate your doctor for surgery. This is common practice for many surgeries insurance companies deem medically "unnecessary".
Does your insurance cover Lasik eye surgery? Post in the comments below.
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