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How Much Does LASIK Eye Surgery Cost?

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What is the average cost of laser eye surgery in 2021?

In 2021, the average cost of LASIK eye surgery in the United States is about $2,246 per eye, according to a Market Scope report of last year’s data prepared for All About Vision.

Costs are gathered from ophthalmologists who routinely perform LASIK surgery and other vision correction procedures, such as PRK, SMILE and refractive lens exchange.

The actual price you pay for LASIK will depend on many factors, including the experience and reputation of your surgeon and the type of technology used during your procedure.

LASIK costs can vary based on technology

Most refractive surgeons in the U.S. (more than 71% in 2019) charge one price for all vision correction procedures performed with an excimer laser to reshape the cornea of the eye.

In other words, additional technology — such as the use of a femtosecond laser to create the flap in the cornea for bladeless LASIK — is included in a single fee and not priced separately as an "extra."

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Other LASIK surgeons, however, base their prices on the specific technology used during the procedure. For example, they may charge more for all-laser LASIK or custom LASIK that employs wavefront technology for a more customized procedure.

A small percentage of surgeons base their laser surgery prices on the strength of your eye prescription. With this kind of pricing, patients with stronger prescriptions will pay more than those with weaker prescriptions.

SEE RELATED: How strong is your eye prescription?

Are cheap LASIK prices really a good value?

You may have seen advertisements promising LASIK eye surgery for less than $1,000 per eye, which sounds like a great value.

But bargain-basement prices can come with catches:

  • The advertised price is only for the correction of mild nearsightedness. If you have farsightedness, astigmatism or moderate to high amounts of nearsightedness, LASIK costs can end up being much higher than the advertised price.

  • The offer price doesn't cover all fees. For instance, you may have a limited number of follow-up visits or, if there's a problem after surgery, additional care could cost extra. Also, the cost of follow-up surgeries probably isn’t included — and you may even be charged extra for your initial consultation.

  • Your procedure may be performed with older technology. This isn't necessarily bad, but newer technologies may offer a more precise LASIK procedure with less risk of complications. For example, at $499 per eye, you probably won't receive custom or bladeless (all-laser) LASIK.

If you're considering low-cost LASIK, make sure you get a written quote that itemizes everything in the offer. Read the fine print, and ask to see any and all potential fees upfront, before signing off on the procedure.

How to reduce LASIK surgery costs

You may be able to make the cost of LASIK more affordable. Some eye care practices offer special pricing and incentives for LASIK and other vision surgeries.

For example, according to a 2019 survey of refractive surgeons in the U.S., about 29% of them offered some form of special pricing. Of these surgeons:

  • 88% offered no-interest financing

  • 65% had limited-time offers

  • 41% offered special group pricing

There are finance companies that offer fixed rates and long-term payment plans for elective procedures like LASIK. Many LASIK surgery centers and private medical practices offer financing plans through these companies.

Most vision insurance plans do not cover refractive surgery. However, some employers arrange for special discounts for their employees at designated surgery centers.

Some large employers also offer subsidized health plans that partially cover LASIK costs. Ask your employer about possible benefits that might cover these corrective eye surgery procedures.

SEE RELATED: How to compare laser eye surgery costs

An FSA or HSA can help you pay for LASIK

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are often used to pay for laser eye surgery.

An FSA allows you to transfer pre-tax income from your paycheck into an account for out-of-pocket health care expenses.

In 2021, the maximum annual employee contribution to an FSA is $2,750. With the average cost of LASIK surgery settling around $2,250 per eye, it's likely you will need more than your FSA to pay for the procedure.

Another option is to contribute tax-free dollars to a Health Savings Account (HSA) to help pay for LASIK surgery. To be eligible for an HSA, you must be enrolled in a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) at work.

You can add contributions to your HSA every pay period, up to a 2021 annual limit of $3,600 for individual coverage and $7,200 for family coverage. And, unlike an FSA, any unspent money in your HSA at the end of the year "rolls over" so you can use it the following year or further into the future.

Depending on your budget, you may be able to save enough money to pay for the entire cost of your LASIK surgery by contributing money to your HSA over a period of two or more years.

If you serve in the U.S. military, certain corrective vision surgery options may be available to you free of charge, including LASIK. Your eligibility would depend at least partly on the nature of your duties.

A final note: Try to avoid choosing a surgeon based only on how much they charge. It's almost always better to choose the best surgeon you can find and, if you need it, sign up for the most affordable financing.

READ MORE: A comprehensive guide to LASIK

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