How To Afford LASIK Surgery
With LASIK costing a few thousand dollars per eye, having laser eye surgery may sometimes seem more of a financial decision than a medical or lifestyle choice. However, financing options mean that cost need not be a reason to avoid LASIK.
With a little research, you may be able to find an affordable way to pay for the LASIK procedure even if you are concerned about cost. Payments typically range from $127 to $420 monthly, depending on the type of financing plan you choose.
Options for managing LASIK surgery costs include finding a healthcare financing company that suits your needs, financing the procedure through a LASIK surgeon or using a flexible spending account (FSA).
With these options, you can reduce the substantial upfront cost of LASIK into more affordable monthly payments.
Paying for LASIK Through Finance Companies
First you should make sure the LASIK surgeon you plan to use approves of the financing company. Because not all LASIK surgeons will work with all financing companies, you might consider asking for a list of approved financing companies before you apply for a loan.
Companies that provide LASIK financing offer a range of plans in which you can complete payments within three months, or extend monthly payments for as long as five years. Some companies allow you to spread out payments over time without incurring any extra cost.
Some short-term payment plans charge no interest at all. For longer term payments, interest rates can vary greatly and range as high as 22.99 percent. A deposit also may be required. Interest rates and deposits depend on personal credit ratings and the LASIK financing company used.
How To Apply for LASIK Financing
Applying for credit from a LASIK financing company usually is quick, easy and similar to obtaining other traditional loans. Many LASIK surgeons also offer LASIK financing through major companies, making the process simple for you.
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Be sure you are prepared with the correct information when you take the following steps that may be needed to complete the application for financing:
- You may not need to visit the financing office in person if you fill out paper applications that can be mailed or faxed in. You may be able to obtain application forms from your eye surgeon or by printing out forms displayed on financing company websites.
- A general credit check requires your full name, permanent address, social security and telephone numbers, and household income.
- Some companies also may ask for a driver's license number.
- You may be asked to submit the name of the eye surgeon you plan to use for your laser eye surgery, along with an estimated treatment fee amount.
- Typically, no information about medical history or credit cards will be needed for financing LASIK.
Applying for LASIK Financing Online
Confidential and secure applications also may be directly available online, a method that tends to be easier for both you and the financing company if you have convenient computer access.
Qualified applicants usually can obtain financing within 24 hours of submitting the application. Some companies advertise that approval can take place within just a few minutes.
When entering your information online, be sure to check that the URL in the address bar begins with https, as opposed to http. This indicates you are on a secure server and that your personal information has been encrypted.
Before submitting personal information online or via a paper application, you'll also want to make sure the company financing your loan is legitimate.
The easiest way of finding out would be to ask your LASIK surgeon or his/her staff member if the financing company is known and if it has a good track record.
Before you apply, obtaining a list of approved financing companies in advance from your eye surgeon probably is the best way to make sure you are dealing with a reputable organization.
You also can learn something about a financing company by determining its source of income. You can ask a company representative if the company provides financing in-house, or if it partners with a financial institution such as a bank.
Paying Off Your LASIK Loan
As with any loan, be sure to make your payments on time, or you will be subject to penalties and late fees. Each LASIK financing company has its own method of penalizing customers who default on a loan payment. However, general penalties can include:
- Losing your low interest or no-interest rate
- Incurring a substantial late fee
- Having an adverse report on your credit record
On the other hand, most financing companies do not charge pre-payment penalties for paying off the loan in advance. If you think you might want to pay off the loan ahead of schedule, make sure you clarify policies regarding potential additional fees with your financing company.
Financing Offered by LASIK Surgeons
Another way to finance LASIK is directly through the surgeon's office. Even though many LASIK surgeons use one of the major financing companies for arranging payments, they occasionally offer financing options through their own practices.
LASIK surgeons who provide their own financing generally do not charge interest. Again, this financing option allows you to spread out payments over several months or even a few years without incurring any extra costs. This is an option to consider as long as the surgeon is reputable and board-certified.
LASIK Financing Through Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)
Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are a tax-free way to save for LASIK. With an FSA, you can use pre-tax income to pay for medical-related costs. You create an interest-free LASIK financing program for yourself by taking a portion of your salary each month and depositing it into a tax-free FSA account.
When you are ready for your LASIK procedure, the money is available for your use and you don't need to worry about paying interest on a loan. However, this option is available only through employer-sponsored vision benefits and flexible spending accounts.
[Page updated July 2010]
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