LASIK is a laser-guided procedure that reshapes the cornea to correct refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. This operation has been around for a few decades, but it has only recently been covered in part by vision insurance providers, like VSP. (Learn More)
VSP, which stands for Vision Service Plan, was founded in 1955 to help people get glasses, eye exams, and needed eye surgeries. Now, the company is offering some coverage for LASIK. (Learn More)
Working with laser surgery centers, VSP vets surgeons and ophthalmologists to ensure you get the best care so you can have great vision after LASIK. (Learn More) They can recommend other financing options for the portion of costs VSP does not cover. (Learn More)
What Is LASIK, and What Does It Treat?
Typically, people with refractive errors wear glasses or contact lenses to perform important daily tasks, like reading and writing, driving, or safely crossing the street. However, some people get tired of wearing corrective lenses and instead opt for minor surgical procedures, like LASIK (laser in-situ keratomileusis.
Up to 60 percent of American adults need corrective eyewear. The following people can benefit from LASIK:
- People who are 18 or older
- Those with refractive errors that are no longer changing
- People who can withstand about 20 to 30 minutes of a locally anesthetized outpatient surgery
- Those who do not have any other serious vision problems like cataracts or glaucoma
This surgery changes the shape of the cornea, which is the skin that rests over the pupil and iris, adjusting how light is refracted into the eye to hit the retina. By changing the cornea’s shape quickly with a laser-guided device, ophthalmologists can force light to hit the retina at a better angle, so vision is clear and not doubled or blurry.
For the first few years, LASIK was not covered by vision insurance because it was not considered a medical necessity. Instead, it was considered a cosmetic procedure, as the majority of people who get LASIK do so only so they can avoid the inconvenience of contact lenses or glasses for a few years. However, more vision insurance companies are beginning to cover at least part of the LASIK procedure, and this includes Vision Service Plan, or VSP.
VSP Vision Insurance
Vision Service Plan (VSP) was founded in 1955 to provide high-quality, low-cost eye benefits to those who needed corrective lenses or eye surgeries. Now, the company has over 88 million members around the world. Among the many benefits offered by VSP is some LASIK coverage.
To help their members understand how LASIK is covered by their vision insurance, VSP offers details about how different ophthalmologists and laser eye surgeons might determine the costs of the operation. For example, your surgeon’s level of experience, the city you live in, and the type of technology used can all impact the cost of your LASIK procedure. Other aspects that affect cost include:
- Required vision correction. People who have higher rates of refractive errors require more planning on the surgeon’s part and more time for the operation. In rare cases, the thinness of your cornea or the severity of your refractive error will mean you are not a candidate for LASIK. As technology advances, this is becoming less of a problem, but it still means you will get less coverage from vision insurance and spend more money out of pocket.
- Laser technology. Newer and custom LASIK devices require updated training for the surgeons who use them. The cost of this training, along with updating the hardware, can impact your cost as the patient.
- Surgeon skill. Surgeons who spend a lot of time keeping their training up to date and who have many specialized patients tend to cost more than those who are newer, who work in group practices, or who do not have specialized training in specific forms of LASIK or LASIK devices.
Typically, the out-of-pocket cost for LASIK will range between $1,000 and $3,000 per eye, according to VSP. While this may appear like a lot at first, this cost doesn’t just include the procedure. It also includes preoperative and postoperative care, including vision exams and consultations, as well as a follow-up procedure if the initial LASIK surgery did not correct vision to within 20/40.
It may be tempting to seek out the least expensive LASIK surgeon in your area, but this is often not the best choice. Working with VSP can give you access to a range of trained and certified professionals. The vision insurance program can take some of the cost down if you need LASIK.
What Does VSP Offer for LASIK?
VSP offers information on the steps needed to make sure you can get LASIK without spending much money out of pocket.
- Check with VSP to make sure you have the Laser Vision Care Program benefit. If you do not, ask if you can have this added to your overall vision insurance.
- Use the VSP website to find LASIK providers that accept this insurance.
- Make an appointment for a LASIK screening with a VSP network doctor to see if you are a good candidate for this laser surgery.
- Your VSP network optometrist or ophthalmologist will coordinate with a VSP-contracted laser vision center to get the most skilled professional to perform your surgery.
- Go to all needed follow-up appointments after LASIK to make sure your vision is healing
After the procedure, you may be able to use your VSP frame benefit to get sunglasses that do not have prescription lenses. These can still have important components like anti-glare coating and ultraviolet (UV) protection. However, speak to someone at VSP to make sure this is covered.
Costs of LASIK After VSP Coverage and How to Manage Them
During your LASIK evaluation, you may find that you are a better candidate for another type of laser vision correction surgery or refractive surgery. VSP can cover much of these costs too.
Coverage means you will not pay more than:
- $1,500 per eye for conventional photorefractive keratectomy (PRK).
- $1,800 per eye for conventional LASIK.
- $2,300 per eye for custom LASIK, custom PRK, or IntraLase (bladeless LASIK).
Many of the laser vision centers the insurance company works with also provide financing options for whatever is not covered by VSP. This means you do not have to cover hundreds or thousands of dollars entirely at once, out of pocket. Financing can spread payments out across 6 to 24 months . They can average as little as $60 per month, making LASIK and other laser vision correction easily within reach for VSP policyholders.
Additionally, many major credit cards and financing companies work specifically with LASIK patients to manage costs. They offer the money upfront, and you work with that company to slowly pay it down over time.
There may also be special offers, discount referrals, or deals provided by the laser surgery center too. As long as they work with VSP, you know they measure up to quality standards.
What Is LASIK? (July 11, 2018). U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
LASIK Eye Surgery Cost. (August 20, 2018). All About Vision.
How Insurance Covers LASIK and Other Laser Vision Correction Procedures. (July 31, 2017). American Refractive Surgery Council (ARSC).
About VSP. VSP.
Laser Vision Questions. VSP.