Does Insurance Cover LASIK? How to Pay for It

Jess Ullrich
Written by
Jess Ullrich
Jess Ullrich
Written by
Jess Ullrich
Insurance Writer
Jess is a personal finance writer who's been creating financial and business content for over a decade. Her work is published on Investopedia, MoneyWise, NextAdvisor, The HuffPost, and more. Prior to freelancing full-time, Jess was an editor at Investopedia, The Balance, and FinanceBuzz. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
Danny Smith
Edited by
Danny Smith
Photo of an Insurify author
Edited by
Danny Smith
Insurance Writer
Danny is an insurance writer at Insurify. Specializing in auto insurance, he works to help drivers navigate the complicated world of insurance to find the best possible policy. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. You can connect with Danny on LinkedIn.

Updated January 17, 2023

Reading time: 5 minutes

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If you’re considering LASIK eye surgery, you may need to dig a little deeper to find the best payment plan possible. That’s because neither vision nor health insurance typically covers LASIK eye surgery, as insurers often classify it as an elective procedure. Some insurers may offer discounts for the procedure, but these discounts are plan-dependent.

Start by checking with your insurance company about potential LASIK discounts. If it doesn’t provide any, you can fund your procedure in other ways.

Is LASIK surgery covered by insurance?

Insurance rarely covers LASIK since insurers view it as an elective or cosmetic procedure. However, if your ophthalmologist can make the case that LASIK is medically necessary, your insurer may cover some or all of the cost. This is uncommon, though, and you shouldn’t expect your insurance to cover the cost.

What is LASIK?

LASIK is a type of eye surgery that uses lasers to fix vision problems, specifically those caused by refractive errors, according to Cleveland Clinic.

See Also: Do I Need Health Insurance Coverage?

How much does LASIK cost?

The average cost of LASIK in the U.S. is around $2,632 per eye, according to a 2020 MarketScope report.[1] But that cost can vary depending on your location, the technology used, the surgeon you choose, your prescription, and other factors.

For instance, the Laser Vision Institute reports that laser eye surgery may cost between $1,999 and $4,000 per eye, while LasikPlus indicates LASIK costs can range from $1,095 to $2,400, depending on the type of technology used.[2] [3]

It’s important to compare prices before choosing a surgeon. Contact different practices in your area to get a sense of how much they charge based on your prescription, location, and the technology they use.

Check Out: The 10 Best & Worst Medicare Advantage Plans

Ways to pay for LASIK without insurance

Even though LASIK typically isn’t covered by insurance, you have options that can help you pay for your procedure, including:

Tax-advantaged accounts

  • Flexible spending accounts (FSAs): FSAs are employer-owned accounts that allow you to set aside some pre-tax income to pay for medical expenses. These accounts are often use-it-or-lose-it, meaning you need to spend your FSA balance by the end of the year or forfeit it. The contribution limit for FSAs is $3,050 in 2023.[4]

  • Health savings accounts (HSAs): HSAs are employee-owned accounts that allow you to set aside some of your pre-tax income for medical expenses. You’ll usually need a high-deductible healthcare plan to qualify for an HSA. Unlike FSAs, your HSA balance will typically roll over from one year to the next. For 2023, the contribution limits for HSAs are $3,850 for individuals and $7,750 for families.[5]

Learn More: What Is a Health Insurance Deductible?

Financing

  • CareCredit: CareCredit is a credit card used exclusively for healthcare financing. It offers special terms with reduced APRs to help you finance the cost of an upcoming procedure. If you opt to finance with CareCredit, you could get an APR lower than you’d get with many regular credit cards.[6]

  • Provider financing: Your provider may also offer special financing options beyond CareCredit. If you’re wondering how to finance your procedure, discuss your options with your chosen practice.

  • Credit card: Many credit cards come with a high APR. But some credit cards offer a 0% APR on purchases for 12 months or more. If you’re able to pay off the balance in full before the promotional period expires, you won’t pay any interest. But if you’re still carrying a balance after the promotional period ends, you’ll start to accrue interest at the card’s regular rate.

  • Personal loan: You can also finance your LASIK procedure through a personal loan. You can typically use a personal loan to cover medical expenses, and funds are often available quickly after approval. Additionally, the APR on personal loans is generally lower than what you’d get with credit cards.

Is LASIK worth it?

Whether LASIK is worth it for you depends on your situation. Be sure to thoroughly research the procedure and understand the risks and benefits. Talk to your eye doctor if you have any questions or concerns. Ultimately, you’ll have to decide for yourself if the procedure is really worth the cost and is something that would truly improve your quality of life.

LASIK has become popular in the U.S. since it was approved by the FDA in 1995. A recent study in the Journal of Clinical Ophthalmology estimates that 20 to 25 million procedures have been performed in the U.S., with around 800,000 done in 2021.[7]

All in all, many patients consider LASIK to be worth the cost. The FDA reports that 95% of LASIK patients were pleased with their results.[8] However, some patients did report symptoms at three months post-surgery, including dry eyes and halos.

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of LASIK to help you determine if it’s right for you.

LASIK Pros

  • Fast procedure: LASIK procedures are relatively quick and painless, with many procedures taking around 20 minutes.

  • Quick results: You’ll likely see better almost immediately following your LASIK procedure.

  • No glasses or contacts: Chances are you won’t need to rely on your glasses or contacts to see after the surgery.

LASIK Cons

  • Expensive: If the payment options discussed above don’t work for you, you’ll likely need to pay out of pocket for the procedure since LASIK is almost never covered by insurance. Costs can climb into the thousands.

  • Not without risks: Like most surgeries, LASIK comes with some risks. Potential risks include dry eyes, halos, and other issues, like problems seeing at night.

  • May need repeat surgery: You may need repeat surgery to maintain your initial LASIK results, even though the procedure is typically considered permanent.

Read More: How to Compare Medicare Advantage & Get the Best Plan

LASIK FAQs

Many patients have questions about LASIK procedures. Here are some of the most common questions and answers. 

  • Most insurance companies consider LASIK to be an elective procedure, which is typically not covered because insurers don’t deem it medically necessary. In rare instances, certain insurers may cover LASIK procedures if there’s a medical issue that prevents patients from wearing glasses or contact lenses.

  • LASIK may be considered medically necessary in certain instances, such as when a patient is unable to wear glasses or contact lenses, needs LASIK after an eye injury, or sustains damage from a previous refractive procedure. However, it depends on your provider and the type of insurance coverage you have.

  • LASIK is considered permanent, though your results can vary depending on your age and prescription. Regression can sometimes occur, and you may need a second corrective procedure. Your vision may also continue to change as you age. For example, you can still develop cataracts despite having had LASIK surgery.

  • The easiest way to find out if you’re a candidate for LASIK is by scheduling a consultation with your eye doctor. They should be able to offer insight into whether a LASIK procedure makes sense for you.

  • LASIK may be cheaper than glasses in the long run, but it depends on what’s covered by your insurance and if LASIK discounts are available to you. For instance, if your glasses cost around $250 per year on average, you’d pay around $5,000 after 20 years. If you were able to get LASIK done for $4,000, you’d recoup the cost in 20 years, assuming you don’t need repeat surgery.

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Sources

  1. MarketScope. "Harmon D. US Refractive Quarterly Update." Accessed January 12, 2023
  2. Laser Vision Institute. "The Real Cost of Laser Eye Surgery." Accessed January 12, 2023
  3. LasikPlus. "LASIK or PRK Eye Surgery Cost." Accessed January 12, 2023
  4. Society for Human Resource Management. "2023 Health FSA Contribution Cap Rises to $3,050." Accessed January 12, 2023
  5. Internal Revenue Service. "Tax forms and instructions." Accessed January 12, 2023
  6. CareCredit. "CareCredit vs General Purpose Credit Cards: How CareCredit is Different?." Accessed January 12, 2023
  7. Clinical Opthamology. "The 25th Anniversary of Laser Vision Correction in the United States." Accessed January 12, 2023
  8. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. "LASIK Quality of Life Collaboration Project." Accessed January 12, 2023
Jess Ullrich
Written by
Jess Ullrich
Linkedin

Insurance Writer

Jess is a personal finance writer who's been creating financial and business content for over a decade. Her work is published on Investopedia, MoneyWise, NextAdvisor, The HuffPost, and more. Prior to freelancing full-time, Jess was an editor at Investopedia, The Balance, and FinanceBuzz. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Learn More
Danny Smith
Edited by
Danny Smith
Linkedin

Insurance Writer

Photo of an Insurify author
Edited by
Danny Smith
Insurance Writer
Danny is an insurance writer at Insurify. Specializing in auto insurance, he works to help drivers navigate the complicated world of insurance to find the best possible policy. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. You can connect with Danny on LinkedIn.