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How much does Lasik cost? The price of fixing your vision

Posted by on September 7, 2011

Tired of wearing glasses? Yeah, we hear you. And contact lenses can be a pain, too.

That’s why 12 million Americans have undergone Lasik surgery to correct their vision since the procedure was approved in the 1990’s. In Lasik  —  Laser-Assisted in situ Keratomileusis  —  a patient’s cornea is sliced open with a blade or a laser to create a flap, the underlying tissue is reshaped, and the flap is  replaced.

While the surgery is fairly consistent, the prices are not, ranging from $800 to $5,000 in the New York area, according to our reporting.

Here at ClearHealthCosts, we called a cross-section of providers to ask prices; here is our list of the price of Lasik surgery. For some providers, the cost includes aftercare — as-needed checkups, prescriptions for eyedrops or the drops themselves — while other providers charge extra for drops, prescriptions and checkups. But that’s just if you’re uninsured, right? Wrong. Lasik is considered by most medical professionals we asked to be an elective surgery, and thus is not covered by conventional insurance plans. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, so be sure to ask your insurance company (if you’ve got insurance) if  they’ll reimburse a portion of the cost before you commit.  The cost of Lasik surgery is relatively stable; after the financial markets crashed in 2008, the demand for Lasik fell.

Traditional Lasik surgery involves slicing open the cornea with a small scalpel (or a laser) to create a flap and allow remodeling of the tissue underneath. Another surgery, called PRK — or photorefractive

keratectomy — is an  alternative. Unlike Lasik, which requires a flap to be sliced into the cornea, PRK uses laser technology to re-shape the cornea without an incision, with the surgeon removing only the outer layer of the cornea. This procedure can be costly, too; Lasik and PRK prices are often comparable, though our survey focused on Lasik.

At New Sight Laser Center on 55th Street in Manhattan, a Lasik procedure might cost $800 — roughly $399 per eye — while 14 blocks south, at 41st Street Medical Center, Lasik can run $5,000, including after-care. Some offices require consultations before the procedure as well — in the $200 range, roughly — the price of which may or may not go toward the cost of the procedure, a very important thing to ask before choosing a provider.

The cost can vary depending on how good (or bad) your vision is to start with. And, the cost of Lasik can show up in two ways: all-in or per eye. So if something costs $700, that may mean per eye, whereas if your estimate runs in the thousands, chances are it includes both eyes. But be sure to ask.

Here are some sources for Lasik information and prices from around the web:

–The Food and Drug Administration’s Lasik information site

–The American Academy of Ophthalmology Lasik information page

–The Eye Surgery Education Council’s Lasik information page, from the e American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery 

–A site sponsored by Access Media with some detailed Lasik information

Also, as with anything else, read the fine print: In 2005, a Florida-based company called Lasik Vision Institute fell under investigation for misleading consumers by misrepresenting the actual cost of Lasik procedures.

Takeaways:

·      Do your homework. Make sure you know if after-care, drops and prescriptions are included in your price quote—you don’t want to be hit with charges later.
·      Is it one eye or two? The price quotes can vary. If it’s in the low hundreds, double it.
·      Check with your provider. If you have insurance, ask first if they will agree to cover the consultation or part of the procedure. It’s uncommon, but not unheard of
·      Laser or blade? Sometimes patients have a choice, but again, the cost of laser surgery can be more than traditional blade Lasik, so have the facts before going under the knife or laser.

Have you had Lasik surgery and want to share your experience? We’d love to hear from you! Email: info [at] clearhealthcosts [dot] com.


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