Maybe you’re considering 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, compared with contact lens wearers.
Paying for LASIK surgery is another matter, however. The cost can vary widely, with the average running about $2,500 per eye, according to the LASIK Vision Institute. And you can’t necessarily rely on insurance to foot the bill.
“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.
FSAs and HSAs
If you have a flexible spending account or health savings account at your work, Ziverts recommends using them to save for your LASIK.
“An FSA or other defined-contribution plan through your employer may help you set aside money in a nontaxable account to use for LASIK eye surgery,” Ziverts said.
If you haven’t used these accounts before, be aware there are a few restrictions. FSAs don’t allow you to roll money over to the next year, so you’ll have to spend your balance 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 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 you wait too long to figure out how to pay for LASIK, you may end up in a financing plan with a high interest rate,” Ziverts said. “Some companies advertise loan approval within just a few minutes, but review whether or not these companies are reputable. Worst-case scenario, you may have to cancel the procedure if you’re not financially prepared.”
This post is based on content that first appeared in SmileInSight by Starmount.