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Is laser eye surgery covered by Medicare?

medicare and lasik coverage

Is LASIK covered by Medicare?

Unfortunately, Medicare won't cover the costs of LASIK or any similar laser eye surgery, but some Medicare Advantage plans might. 

What is LASIK? If you wear prescription glasses or contact lenses, you’ve probably considered laser eye surgery as a way to see clearly without specs or contacts. LASIK improves vision for patients with nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, often providing immediate and long-term improvement with minimal pain or discomfort

Let’s review why LASIK isn’t included in your Medicare benefits, how this procedure differs from cataract surgery and the potential costs involved if you elect to have laser eye surgery. 

Is laser eye surgery covered by Medicare? 

LASIK is considered an elective surgery and is not covered by Medicare. In fact, Original Medicare doesn’t cover routine eye care, such as eye exams, corrective eyeglasses, contact lenses and/or frames. 

If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, it’s possible your laser eye surgery will be covered. Medicare Advantage plans are required to provide the same benefits as Medicare Parts A and B, but many also offer additional benefits that sometimes include routine vision care and, in some instances, laser eye surgery. 

LASIK may or may not be included with your benefits, so it’s best to check your plan or call your provider for confirmation. 

CONSIDERING LASIK SURGERY? Find a LASIK surgeon in your area. Click the Services filter at top right of the doctor locator to find a LASIK specialist near you.

Does Medicare cover LASIK surgery for cataracts? 

In short, no. LASIK does not correct vision loss caused by cataracts and is not considered medically necessary; therefore, LASIK eye surgery is not covered under Original Medicare. 

LASIK surgery and cataract surgery are both widely used to correct vision, but the procedures focus on different parts of the eyes to achieve clearer results. 

LASIK surgery reshapes the cornea of the eye, correcting vision issues like nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism. Because cataract is the clouding of the eye’s natural lens behind the cornea, it’s still possible to develop cataracts after LASIK surgery which would require an additional procedure (cataract surgery). 

Depending on the severity of your cataracts, LASIK may be a possibility. As you begin your research, ask your eye doctor whether laser eye surgery will work for you. 

SEE RELATED: LASIK eye surgery cost

How much does it cost for laser eye surgery?

LASIK is an elective procedure and is not covered by Medicare, except under certain Medicare Advantage plans. If you’re using supplemental insurance or paying out of pocket, laser eye surgery costs vary and depend on several factors:

  • Level of correction. If you have extremely poor vision, you may pay a little more than other patients. 

  • Technology used. Surgeons using top-of-the-line equipment may charge more for laser eye surgery. 

  • Surgeon’s experience. Laser eye surgery from a seasoned surgeon tends to be more expensive due to their reputation and higher level of skill. (See our article on "How to find the best LASIK surgeons")

Depending on the factors above, LASIK surgery can range anywhere from $1,000 per eye to more than $3,000 per eye. In 2019, the average cost of LASIK surgery performed in the United States was $2,246 per eye, according to a report prepared for All About Vision by eye care industry analytics firm Market Scope. 

Keep in mind that this is for each eye. The final cost will include the procedure, pre- and post-op care and a follow-up procedure for any fine-tuning. 

Is LASIK right for you? An eye doctor will able to recommend the best procedure for your unique vision needs, and if you have a Medicare Advantage plan, look into coverage for elective eye surgeries.

Finally, to avoid any expensive surprises, ask for an itemized breakdown of the proposed LASIK procedure before committing to having laser eye surgery. 

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT LASIK: Find an eye doctor near you and schedule a consultation.

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