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Although the costs of laser eye surgery should never be the primary concern in selecting a surgeon to perform the procedure, once a qualified and experienced surgeon has been selected it is very important to fully understand what is included and what is not included in the price the surgeon quotes for completing the procedure on each eye. This is important because some surgeons may quote a per eye cost for laser eye surgery and the price they quote may include only the actual procedure, while another surgeon may include both pre-operative and post-operative visits in the quoted price for each eye. This is significant because understanding what is included will help the patient to determine which surgeon is truly offering the best value for the procedure.
There are a number of different items which may or may not be included in the costs of laser eye surgery. Some of these items may include pre-operative visits, post-operative visits, follow up procedures, emergency care, prescriptions and temporary vision correction eyewear, if necessary. If these costs are not included, they could significantly increase the overall cost of the procedure so it is a good idea to understand the surgeon's price structure before undergoing the procedure to avoid unpleasant surprises.
The question of how much does LASIK eye surgery cost can be a difficult one to answer because it depends largely on your insurance provider. However, members of the popular Vision Service Plan (VSP) enjoy benefits regarding pricing of LASIK surgery when they have the surgery performed at a participating facility.
VSP has arranged discounted prices with certain participating facilities. Additionally, some of these facilities also offer not to exceed values on laser eye surgery. This means the facility will never charge more than a set amount for laser eye surgery on each eye. This amount varies depending on the procedure employed.
The conventional wisdom is that you can never get LASIK financing through your insurance company. However, times are changing.
Insurance companies such as Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield may pay for LASIK surgery at a discounted rate. Currently, it costs $895 for LASIK and $1,295 for custom LASIK, as quoted by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Southern Carolina in partnership with TruVision. However, your PPO plan's negotiated rate may be actually higher than the current market value for the service, so investigate the real costs of paying for LASIK surgery with your insurance company.
Make sure that your insurance coverage of LASIK includes:
* Vision exam
* Pre-operative care
* Corrective surgery
* Post-operative care for one year
Ask whether additional corrective surgery or enhancements are covered in your LASIK surgery financing. Some insurance providers will pay for LASIK-related complications such as dry eyes.
It's a fact that even 20/20 uncorrected vision is not always healthy. You might have hyeropia, myopia, or undetected eye problems. It's no wonder that your employer now includes LASIK financing as a perk for your hard work.
You've heard of flexible spending accounts or FSAs, which withhold part of your paycheck if you're a LASIK candidate with healthy eyes, but you may want to investigate other employer-sponsored LASIK surgery financing.
Ask about the Indemnity Plan, in which you may have to pay a small copayment and your employer will pay the LASIK surgeon a portion of the cost.
LASIK doctors caution against signing up for a Discounted Fee For Service Plan, in which your employer or your insurance company may request that you pay just 50 percent of your LASIK procedure. The danger of paying for LASIK surgery this way is that your LASIK surgeon may be required to cut costs, so that you receive a reduced standard of care. You may be better off if you save your money and pay for LASIK surgery through a monthly installment plan or extended payment plan, which many surgeons offer.
You hear about new employer-sponsored health plans that can relieve part of the problem of LASIK financing. Too good to be true?
While many employers today are struggling with employee benefits and the spiraling costs of health insurance, some employers offer flexible spending accounts or FSAs that you can use to offset the burden of paying for LASIK surgery. Your company will determine if you qualify, and if you do, will withhold pre-tax dollars through payroll deduction to cover your LASIK procedure.
LASIK eye surgery centers are now working with employers to provide LASIK financing as a health insurance benefit. Ask your company's human resource program if you quality for LASIK financing.
Many patients will use their plastic to pay for LASIK surgery, but according to OPHTHALMOLOGY MANAGEMENT, 25 percent of patients choose LASIK financing offered by surgeons. If you're in that range, you may worry that your lack of creditworthiness will mean being saddled with the ever-increasing costs of having glasses, not to mention the inconvenience.
It's true that banks prefer a debt-to-income ratio of 20 to 35 percent. Any surgeon who assures you of getting LASIK surgery financing regardless of your ability to pay or credit score may not know all the facts. Your surgeon is concerned with your eyes, of course, but does not want to chance taking on credit problems.
If, however, you now have a stable job history and your debt-to-income ratio is within the range of what banks consider acceptable, you're more likely to be approved for LASIK financing by your surgeon. You can probably get a quick response to your loan application while you're still in the surgeon's office, since many surgeons prefer to use LASIK financing plans with simple credit applications and fast decisions.
Get your credit report online from one of the major companies: Experian, Equifax, or Transunion. Once you're armed with information, you can walk into your surgeon's office with confidence.
Cafeteria health plans are another way to fund LASIK surgery. A cafeteria health plan is a way to withhold money from your paycheck using a payroll deduction. This money is allowed to be withheld for a defined amount of pretax dollars.
People considering LASIK and wishing to use their cafeteria plan to fund it, should first make sure they are a candidate for LASIK. Once that is known, you may talk to your employer about how much money you wish to have withheld, making sure the amount you do withhold is enough to cover the amount of the surgery.
Please talk to your human resource office for more information on cafeteria plans.
Finally, good news from the IRS: if paying for LASIK surgery means a tighter checkbook afterwards, Uncle Sam might offer some relief.
With your renewed eyesight, thanks to your LASIK surgery, you'll be able to see the fine print on your tax forms more clearly.
In 2003, the IRS ruled that LASIK is a tax-deductible medical expense. This is yet another tax break for you if you're weighing LASIK financing options. Even if your employer offers tax-free flexible spending accounts, you can pay for LASIK surgery on your own and reap the benefits when tax time rolls around.
There's a catch: To be eligible for a tax deduction, your health care expenses need to exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. If your health care expenses aren't that steep, you might consider your flexible spending account offered through your employer, which is tax-free and you can reduce your state income tax payments as well. Ask your accountant or tax attorney whether you qualify for a LASIK surgery deduction.
If you are thinking of having LASIK surgery and are afraid it may be too expensive, why not look into a discount vision plan? There are vision plans that you may purchase separate from your health insurance and use for discounts on things, such as LASIK.
Check with your employer first - some corporate health plans offer a vision plan with your health insurance. Try looking into this before purchasing a separate vision plan. A discount vision plan may offer you the following in regards to LASIK:
-Reduced cost of laser eye surgeries, sometimes at a savings of 40 to 50 percent
-Access to experienced ophthalmologists
-Education about LASIK
-Special financing when paying for LASIK
The one pertinent point of information with a discount vision plan is: You may only be able to pick from a small list of providers for the surgery.
If you are interested in LASIK but concerned about the price, don't give up hope - with some planning, LASIK may be possible! Are you getting a tax refund? If you know your government is reimbursing you for the tax year, why not use that money for LASIK procedure?
If your tax refund isn't enough to pay for LASIK surgery, then perhaps start saving your refunds yearly until you have enough saved. In the end it will be worth it to have saved that money and not have to worry about paying any monthly bills for the procedure.
There are things to think about when considering LASIK or similar laser eye surgeries. Many people think they can't afford the cost of the eye surgery and while that may be true in certain circumstances, there is another approach to consider when factoring in the cost of LASIK eye surgery: What will eye surgery save you financially in the long run?
Here are some things to think about when considering eye surgery:
-The younger you are, the better this surgery may be for you in the long run. Think about how many more years you may be needing those contact lenses or glasses. Think about how much that may cost you over the years.
-Think about how much eye exams cost you per year at the moment. Multiply that by how many more years you will need these exams because your vision may decline as you get older.
-Don't forget to add in the cost of your yearly expenses on glasses or contacts. This cost will part of your budget for the rest of your life.
By taking into account all of these factors, you may be surprised to figure out that over the span of time, by spending money on the above items, you will have actually spent more money than you would have had you chosen to have LASIK.
You've used your consumer credit union or employer credit union for years. They know your history, they know your credit rating, they know you. Should you go to them for LASIK financing?
LASIK surgery centers and surgeons have discovered the value of employer or consumer credit unions as a source for patient LASIK financing, especially if a majority of a company's employees choose a particular surgery center. Ask your credit union about LASIK financing.
When you're comparing LASIK financing options, it doesn't hurt to have more than one source of financing available.
When evaluating laser eye surgery costs, it is important to carefully consider all of the costs associated with the procedure. This is important because there may be hidden costs associated with the procedure. Some of the hidden laser eye surgery costs may include temporary corrective eyewear, prescriptions, office visits and emergency care.
In some cases, temporary corrective eyewear may be necessary. Most patients enjoy the benefits of corrected vision within days of undergoing the procedure, however, some patients do not see immediate results and may have to wear contact lenses or eyeglasses for a short period of time. Some surgeons may include this cost, while others may require patients to pay for these items separately.
The cost of prescriptions can also increase the overall costs of laser eye surgery. Again, some surgeons may include these prescriptions with the cost of the procedure while others may require patients to purchase these prescriptions separately. Therefore, it is important to understand how much these prescriptions will cost and whether or not they are included in the price the surgeon quotes for each eye.
Office visits can also be a factor to consider when considering laser eye surgery costs. Patients will likely be required to attend a number of pre-operative and post-operative office visits. If these visits are not included in the cost of the surgery, they can add up very quickly.
Finally, emergency care and follow up procedures can increase the overall costs of laser eye surgery if they are needed. It is important to discuss the possibility for the need for emergency care and follow up procedures beforehand to be sure you understand your surgeon's policies on the cost of these services.
It is important to understand your insurance providers LASIK insurance policy before assuming the procedure will be fully covered. This is significant because the vast majority of insurance providers consider vision correction procedures to be cosmetic in nature and are therefore not likely to provide insurance coverage for these procedures. However, patients often have other options available to them including special rates offered on LASIK surgery by their employers and the ability to put money in a flexible spending account for use in paying for LASIK surgery.
Many employers allow employees to put pre-tax dollars into a flexible spending account for use for approved medical expenses. LASIK surgery may be included in these approved expenses, but care should be taken to ensure this is possible before putting money into these accounts. However, if LASIK surgery is one of the approved medical expenses, the patient can have money removed from their paychecks before taxes and stored in a flexible spending account until needed. This money can then be used to cover the cost of LASIK surgery so the patient does not have to worry about financing the procedure.
LASIK surgery can be a very worthwhile procedure, but it is also one which can be very expensive and which is not often covered by insurance plans. Fortunately, there are a number of methods for financing LASIK surgery including arranging a payment plan with the surgeon and taking out a personal loan.
Many LASIK surgeons offer financing options to patients who cannot afford to pay the full cost of LASIK surgery immediately. In most cases this financing is in the form of a payment plan which is arranged between the surgeon and the patient prior to the procedure. Some surgeons will require a specific percentage of the total cost be paid prior to the procedure, while other surgeons will only require a small down payment before the procedure. Additionally, the interest rates, if applicable, may also vary from one surgeon to another. For these reasons, it is important to fully understand the financing options before undergoing the procedure.
Patients interested in financing LASIK surgery may also do so through loans from commercial lenders. Personal loans, as well as home equity loans, can both be used for this purpose. However, it is important to note the patient will likely receive more favorable loan terms if his credit score is above average than he would receive if his credit rating was poor.
According to data for the year 2006, the average cost of LASIK eye surgery in the United States is approximately $2,000 per eye. This average cost for LASIK surgery on each eye rose significantly in the years 2003, 2004 and 2005 before stabilizing in the year 2006. It is important to note some eye surgeons may charge more or less than this average value and care should be taken to select an eye surgeon who not only quotes an appealing ,but also has the experience and skill level to make the patient feel confident about the surgeon's ability to perform the procedure successfully.
One of your laser eye surgery options is an interest-free loan option for financing LASIK surgery.
According to the patient finance institution Vision Fee Plan, almost half the people considering laser eye surgery say affordability is the big obstacle to having LASIK. You most likely fall into that category. You may find an interest-free loan from a patient financing provider or bank an attractive LASIK surgery financing option. Many surgeons work with CapitalOne and CareCredit, which offer no-interest loans for up to twelve months, with no prepayment penalty.
Your surgeon may also offer a six-month deferred LASIK surgery financing plan, which features no interest and no loan payments for the first six months--a perfect time to put in that overtime at work. College students just entering the workplace may especially find this valuable. You're young, healthy and active, and you've decided that LASIK is worth the cost.
If you don't qualify for an interest-free loan, know that 9.9% to 14.9% is usually an acceptable rate--the actual rate is dependent on your credit history and the length of the loan.
Ask for literature detailing all the costs of any LASIK financing plan, and be sure that there are no hidden processing fees on interest-free loans.
When it comes down to it, LASIK can be expensive. Many laser surgery centers offer different methods of payment or payment plans. The following may be accepted where you choose to have your eye surgery:
-Low interest financing/payment plans through the surgical center (ask your center if they offer these)
-Flexible spending account (similar to a cafeteria plan)
There are many options when choosing to pay for your LASIK. These options all may be available at your choice of surgery centers, please check with that specific center.
We are all determined to get the best deal. You don't always need a new sweater, but it's "on sale."
When it comes to our vision, things are different. You vow that, even if your insurance company doesn't cover laser eye surgery, you'll beg, borrow or steal to pay for LASIK surgery because you're tired of having poor vision and wearing glasses.
Then your LASIK surgeon quotes you the cost per eye for LASIK. People paying for LASIK surgery in the first quarter of 2005 coughed up $1,600-$2,000 per eye for LASIK, and $2000-$2500 for custom LASIK, according to the MarketScope Refractive Quarterly Update. These costs typically include:
* equipment--including hospital gowns, gloves and safety equipment
* microkeratome and femtosecond lasers
* eye royalty fee (paid to the laser manufacturer)
* overhead for the surgery center
* hospital fees
* Wavefront mapping
* pre-op evaluation meeting
* comprehensive eye examination, including the curvature of your cornea, the thickness of your cornea (a pachymetry test), and a test to see that you are free from irregular astigmatism or keratoconus
* follow-up office visits and tests
* enhancements performed within at least the first 12 months after surgery
* standard medications
You're panicking over LASIK surgery financing, thinking your down payment on your first car didn't cost that much. Then you see an ad in a magazine: "LASIK Surgery for $300 Per Eye!"
You do get what you pay for--these are your eyes we're talking about. LASIK Vision Institute allegedly misrepresented its costs, quoting a price $299, and Florida's Attorney General took it to task. Not all LASIK providers will tell you the hidden costs, or warn that your eyes may need more correction than the bargain price quoted when you pay for LASIK surgery initially.
Many reputable doctors offer LASIK surgery financing to help you make this investment in yourself and your future. You'll know that you're read to pay for LASIK surgery when you try to read your credt card statement and your glasses get in the way.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|