LASIK eye surgery is an outpatient procedure done to correct vision issues such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
If you have original Medicare and your doctor has recommended LASIK for you, you may be wondering whether your insurance will pay for it.
Medicare covers only surgeries that are considered medically necessary. Since LASIK is an elective procedure, original Medicare doesnâ€™t cover it.
However, if you have Medicare Advantage, you may have some coverage under your plan.
Read on to learn more about Medicare coverage for LASIK and how to get the most coverage possible.
Does Medicare cover LASIK?
Original Medicare, made up of Part A and Part B, doesnâ€™t provide coverage for vision care in most instances. Parts A and B originally donâ€™t cover:
- eye exams
- contact lenses
- surgical procedures to correct vision
However, there are exceptions for medically necessary services. These include: cataract surgery and treatments for eye diseases, such as:
- age-related macular degeneration
- diabetic retinopathy
LASIK surgery isnâ€™t usually done to prevent blindness and isnâ€™t categorized as medically necessary. It is an elective procedure done to improve vision, which can alternatively be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses.
For that reason, itâ€™s not covered by Medicare.
What if I have a Medigap plan?
Since Medigap covers only services approved by Medicare, it doesnâ€™t cover the cost of LASIK surgery.
Will Medicare Advantage cover LASIK?
Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans often include vision coverage. Some plans will cover all or some of the cost of LASIK.
Since plans and their coverage vary, you shouldnâ€™t assume that your Part C plan will pay for this procedure. In the next sections, weâ€™ll discuss how to confirm whether your plan offers this coverage.
Costs and ways to save
The costs for LASIK vary from doctor to doctor and from state to state. Factors that may play a role include:
- your vision
- the type of laser and technology used
- the doctorâ€™s level of expertise
The consultation with your doctor to determine whether youâ€™re a good candidate for LASIK may include multiple tests and eye measurements. This exam alone may cost several hundred dollars in some instances.
Youâ€™ll also need follow-up visits after the procedure to see how your eyes are healing.
Ask your doctor what the costs for all of these visits are upfront and if theyâ€™re folded into the total cost of LASIK surgery. The LASIK procedure itself usually averages around $4,200.
Temporary eyeglasses, sunglasses, or contact lenses may also be required, resulting in additional out-of-pocket costs.
All these costs add up and may mean LASIK isnâ€™t an affordable option for you without help. If so, talk with your doctor. They may offer a low- or no-interest financing plan that can help you pay for LASIK over 1 or 2 years.
There are also vision insurance plans for older adults that you may wish to buy. These plans can provide extra coverage to your current Medicare insurance.
Not every vision insurance plan covers the cost of LASIK surgery. As with any insurance plan youâ€™re considering, make sure to find out exactly whatâ€™s covered before you purchase the plan.
What are my other options?
LASIK is typically done to eliminate the need for eyeglasses or contact lenses. If LASIK is too expensive, you may be better off staying with your current prescription lenses or trying a different type that works better for you.
When considering the costs, keep in mind that LASIK will save you the money you wouldâ€™ve spent on eyeglasses or contact lenses and cleansing solutions.
This can represent a savings of several thousand dollars over time, making LASIK an affordable option when considering the long-term costs.
What should never be an option is LASIK thatâ€™s advertised as very inexpensive or downright cheap. Your eyes and vision are precious and shouldnâ€™t be gambled with. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
What is LASIK?
LASIK is an outpatient procedure thatâ€™s done to reshape the corneas, usually in both eyes, to improve your vision. It typically takes around 30 minutes for both eyes.
LASIK doesnâ€™t require general anesthesia. Some patients are given medication to help them relax during the procedure.
Hereâ€™s an overview of what typically happens during the LASIK procedure:
- Before the procedure, your doctor will place numbing drops in each eye.
- Your eyes will be held open with an instrument, and youâ€™ll be instructed to focus on a beam of light.
- A suction ring will be placed on your eye.
- Your doctor will use a small blade or cutting laser to cut a thin corneal flap in the front of your eye, which can be folded back to expose the cornea.
- The cornea is reshaped through the removal of microscopic corneal tissue cells.
- The flap is then laid back over the cornea.
- The procedure is repeated on your other eye.
It may take between 2 to 3 months to heal completely and see your final results.
According to Mayo Clinic, 8 out of 10 people report having 20/20 or near-20/20 vision and no longer needing eyeglasses or contact lenses after LASIK.
While rare, there are risks that may occur with the LASIK procedure. Some of these risks include: