You have made the decision to have LASIK and your doctor says you’re a good candidate for surgery, but, now that you’ve looked at the cost of the procedure, you wonder how on Earth you can possibly afford to pay for it!You are not alone; the cost of LASIK surgery is the biggest obstacle for most patients. However, LASIK can be a great investment, especially when you weigh its cost against the cost of wearing glasses or contact lenses for the rest of your life. And we can’t even begin to put a price on the value of improving your vision, comfort and convenience.No matter which LASIK surgeon you choose, there are several options available to make LASIK more affordable for you. However, you should never let a low price be the only deciding factor. We are talking about your eyesight here! LASIK can ruin your vision for the rest of your life if you put your eyesight in the hands of a poorly-trained LASIK surgeon using substandard laser technology. Touch-ups can be done, but LASIK is not reversible. Low-priced LASIK surgery may cost you far more in the long run, so think before you act.
Use Your Savings – If you have the available funds, the best way to pay for your LASIK surgery is from your savings. Paying for it out of your own pocket will mean that you won’t be accumulating any debt that you’ll need to pay off later. If you decide on this option, be sure to negotiate with your LASIK center for a cash discount. Also, keep in mind that there’s a very good chance you won’t need any type of corrective lenses after LASIK surgery, so factor these savings into your total cost.
Credit Cards – Unfortunately, credit cards usually charge you high interest rates. If you think you’ll be able to pay off your credit card before you end up paying triple the cost of your LASIK surgery in credit card interest, by all means consider this option.
Apply for Financing – Thousands of people finance some of their health-related expenses these days – orthodontia for their kids, gastric bypass, liposuction, rhinoplasty (nose job), etc – because many of these elective procedures are not covered by health insurance. The monthly loan payments are very reasonable and will make the LASIK expense less painful. Talk to your LASIK center about your options; they may offer very reasonable in-house financing or partner with reputable financial institutions. You may be surprised to find low- or even no-interest loans, some requiring no down-payment or no payments at all for a few months; and the whole application process may take less than 15 minutes. You could also go directly to your bank, credit union or an online lender to apply for a personal loan or line of credit. Whichever decision you make, be sure the lender has no pre-payment penalty if you think you may be able to pay the loan off early.
Health Insurance – Most people believe that health insurance companies NEVER pay for LASIK surgery, but this is not entirely true. Although most insurance carriers consider LASIK to be an elective procedure and, therefore, not covered, your plan may consider paying something toward your expense if you suffer from dry eyes and cannot wear contact lenses or if you cannot wear eyeglasses at work (in other words, if there is a “medical neccessity” for the procedure). Be sure to check with them. Some major insurance companies may offer you a discounted rate through your PPO plan. If you have a vision plan, check with them to find out your options. You may be required to use one of their participating ophthalmologists, but your surgery will be much more affordable. Another option, if you have some time to plan ahead, is to purchase a discount vision plan separate from your regular health plan. Read the fine print to know exactly which LASIK expenses will and will not be covered.
Make the Most of Your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) – If your employer offers a Flexible Spending Account, you can put aside pre-tax dollars to offset the expense of your LASIK surgery. Your employer makes a payroll deduction and deposits the money into a tax-free account. When you have adequate funds saved, you can use them to pay for your LASIK procedure. Speak to your human resources representative to be sure LASIK is covered through your FSA. IMPORTANT: You must spend FSA money during the calendar year in which you save it or you will lose it. Also, beginning January 1, 2013, the limitation for FSA accounts will be capped at $2,500 per calendar year and fluctuate with inflation going forward. This is due to recent health care reform legislation. Even if your FSA won’t cover all of your LASIK expense, it may still be a great way to offset a large part of the cost.
Is LASIK tax-deductible? – The IRS considers LASIK surgery to be a tax-deductible medical expense. Depending on your income, you may be able to deduct your expenses from your income taxes. The catch is that your health-related expenses have to exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income or they are not deductible. Talk to your accountant or tax adviser to see if you would qualify.
As you can see, there are so many ways to make your LASIK surgery affordable. First, do your homework to find an experienced, capable LASIK surgeon and get a thorough screening to be sure LASIK is the best choice for you. Once you know, explore all of these financing options to be sure nothing stands between you and your new eyesight!