Does Insurance Cover LASIK?
I Want LASIK, But…
Many people want LASIK, and for a variety of reasons they have not yet had it. Here are the top reasons for not getting LASIK that I hear:
- I’ve got astigmatism!
- My prescription isn’t stable.
- I heard it doesn’t last
- My optometrist told me I’m not a candidate
- I don’t want to have reading glasses.
- I’m afraid!
- It costs too much, I can’t afford it
- I will do it if my insurance covers LASIK or PRK
There are more, that I’m forgetting. I believe I’ve heard every excuse in the book, if there is a book. And while I will address numbers one through seven in separate blog posts, I can address the “is LASIK covered by insurance” part.
Insurance or no insurance, Lasik is a classic “no-brainer!”
First and foremost, LASIK is an amazing value. Really. Think for a moment about how little this really is in the scheme of things, and how much value it brings to your life, over other things you’d spend $4000 on especially glasses and contacts!) Not only does LASIK improve your quality of life – think of camping, back country hiking, scuba, snorkeling, wake surfing, going to the gym, you name it – you can do it without worrying about your forgetting to pack your contacts, your contact lens falling out, getting dirty, causing pain, being stranded and not being able to see what is around you even if it’s dangerous. All these things have happened to our patients before having Lasik and none of them afterward. Personal note: I remember on my honeymoon a VERY long time ago seeing fins around me while floating the Atlantic. I was terrified, only to learn when I got back to the beach that it had been dolphins that I wish I could have seen instead of thinking my life was about to painfully end by a shark right after my wedding. I had -8 glasses until I had LASIK in 1998, as have over 90% of my fellow refractive surgeon colleagues who are candidates for LASIK. I have saved over $15,000 in contacts and glasses (not to mention seeing the sea life around me). The cost is a one time fee of an average of $4,000. The lifetime benefit in savings on glasses, contact lenses, contact lens solution is tens of thousands of dollars. Why would you not want this?
Yeah, but does insurance cover LASIK or PRK?
The answer for most people is: No. Well, how can I pay for LASIK? One way is financing. Check out how much, and how, to pay: https://sharpe-vision.com/pricing/ Another way for a lot of Seattleites is insurance. If my insurance pays for LASIK, I’ll do it. In Seattle, we are fortunate to have an extremely robust tech sector, and tech companies are highly competitive for people. Benefits are one way they attract and keep their highly sought after employees. One benefit a few companies are providing is LASIK and PRK. How to get insurance to pay for LASIK? Well, one way is to work for one of these amazing companies! There are just a few companies that we know of that offer this benefit as of this writing are:
- Zillow 80%
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation 100%
- Adaptive Biotechnologies
This list is changing over time, with more Seattle tech companies offering it as a benefit. I wouldn’t hold my breath though. Insurance companies only think about now, this quarter, this month, and if they pay for LASIK now, it’s a big expense. They of course, don’t care so much that you’d benefit from this for decades. That won’t help them meet their income to expense ratio for this quarter. It’s a shame, but reality.
But seriously, how can I get insurance to pay for LASIK?
While we are grateful to these wonderful companies for providing insurance that covers LASIK, most of us still have to pay out of pocket. Fortunately, there is a wonderful government benefit available to everyone who is employed that can reduce the LASIK cost significantly. That benefit is an HSA or FSA account that you can set up through your employer. Take this example: if the cost of laser vision correction is $4000, and your tax bracket is 25%, you must earn $5333 to pay for it without an HSA. If you have an HSA, then you must earn $4000 to pay for LASIK, and save $1333.
- LASIK/PRK cost: $4000
- Without HSA: If you earn $5333, you have $4000 after taxes to spend on LASIK or PRK
- With HSA: If you earn $4000, you can spend $4000 on LASIK or PRK, and save the taxes
- Total savings: $1333 of your hard earned dollars. Now you can buy those designer sunglasses, a tank of gas, dinner out, and still have $500 left over. And your vision is clear and crisp without any glasses or contacts to buy again. How’s that sound as a LASIK lifestyle upgrade?
Pretty great benefit! How does this work? Well, it’s slightly different for every employer’s plan, but toward the end of the calendar year your employer has what’s called “open enrollment“ where you choose how much money you want to set aside into your company’s plan. Then in the following calendar year, you can use that money to pay for LASIK, PRK, or any other medical procedures, medications, medical devices and other qualified expenses. We provide you a receipt for your LASIK or PRK procedure and you submit it through your company’s portal or their provider that generally is included on major payroll companies such as ADP and Paychex.
My conclusion is: everyone should have LASIK, PRK or an ICL as soon as they are adults, whether or not your insurance covers it. LASIK, PRK and ICL ( https://us.discovericl.com ) are all approved for 18+ years of age. And with good reason: they are wonderful, time-tested procedures that millions of people have had and are enjoying now. You owe it to yourself to love your best life, check us out, get over the fear, cost issues, and invest in yourself. Give us a call, or a visit. We do a comprehensive eye exam at no charge: 425.451.2020 0r https://sharpe-vision.com
-Dr. Matthew Sharpe