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LASIK Surgery - How Much Does It Cost?

Lasik Costs Understanding this guide
Prices for LASIK and other refractive surgeries are quoted per eye. If you need to have eyes done, the price will double. This is a standard in the industry.

All refractive surgery involves the following:

  • Pre-op evaluation and testing, including a comprehensive eye exam
  • Surgery
  • Standard medications
  • Follow-up visits
  • "Enhancement" (additional surgery) if you are not satisfied with the results of the first surgery

Questions to ask
Not only will your price quote vary from provider to provider, but what is included will vary also. In an effort to make the surgery look cheaper, some surgeons may . Asking questions will allow you to better compare prices. Good questions to ask include:

  • What is included in the price quote? What is not included?

  • What will the total price be for the surgery, including pre-op testing, all necessary medications and follow-up visits?

  • What costs could result from complications?

  • If additional surgery is needed (often referred to as an "enhancement"), what will it cost?

  • Is there a non-refundable deposit involved?

Pricing trends
Earlier in the decade, LASIK prices rose steadily, partly as a result of high demand. Pricing stabilized in 2006-2008, with around 1.4 million surgeries performed per year. Experts predict this number to decline in 2008, due to the state of the U.S. economy, possibly effecting LASIK surgery cost.

Average cost of conventional LASIK and other refractive surgeries
Prices vary widely from provider to provider and depend on many factors. For conventional LASIK surgery (using a blade and not customized with wavefront technology), the majority of providers charged in the $1000-$2000 range, with the average being around $1700.

Average prices for photorefractive keratectomy (PRK), Epi-LASIK, and LASEK are about the same as LASIK. Conductive keratoplasty (CK) costs approximately $1500-2900.

New technologies, higher prices
Some providers charge extra for LASIK surgery using modern technology such as wavefront diagnosis ("custom LASIK") or IntraLase ("bladeless LASIK").

The average cost for custom, IntraLase LASIK surgery ranges from $2000-3000 among the majority of providers, with the average being around $2300.

One-price surgery
Many providers (almost 40%) charge one price for LASIK surgery, rather than charging based on the type of technology involved. The majority of these providers charge in the $1500-2500 range, around $2100 being the average cost.

Do not be fooled by advertised bargains
You may see advertisements boasting bargains like $499 LASIK, but don't be fooled. These so-called bargains always come with a lot of fine print, and very few people actually qualify for the price stated. Beware of restrictions, extra fees, and non-refundable deposits. Ask lots of questions and remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Choose your provider based on the technology used and the skill of the surgeon, not solely on price. Do not take chances with your eyesight by cutting corners, especially when so many affordable financing options are available.

Insurance and financing
Most insurers consider vision correction surgery to be "elective" (or "cosmetic") and do not cover it, but it doesn't hurt to ask. If your doctor feels you need the surgery, some insurance companies will offer a portion of coverage, usually as an indemnity plan.

If your insurance will not cover any of your surgery, there are other ways you may be able to reduce your out-of-pocket expense. Some employers may arrange for a special price from a particular provider. Many surgeons offer discounts to uninsured patients. You also may qualify for a tax-deduction for refractive surgery or a tax-free flexible spending account (FSA).

If you are in the military, you may be eligible for free refractive surgery, depending on the nature of your duties.

Financing plans are available directly from some surgeons, and also through healthcare financing companies.

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