Upgrade Your Vision: How to Pay for LASIK Eye Surgery

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I’ve worn contacts comfortably for 25 years — since I was 13. But every now and then, I wonder what it might be like to not have to pop those lenses in every day (or wear glasses on the rare days my eyes don’t want to cooperate).

About 700,000 LASIK procedures are performed each year, according to the Stein Eye Institute at UCLA, and a large percentage of patients are happy with the results. However, the Food and Drug Administration is considering changing its guidance to require surgeons to better explain the risks. In some patients, there are long-term side effects that can impact vision and eye health.

If you decide LASIK is worth the risk for you, the next step is worrying that you can’t afford the medical bills that come with eye surgery.

This sought-after procedure appears to be fairly affordable, through a variety of payment options. Here’s what you need to know about how to pay for LASIK.

How much does LASIK cost?

It’s possible to have your surgery done with the most sophisticated equipment for about $2,100 per eye, said Satish Modi, a board-certified ophthalmologist and LASIK surgeon with Seeta Eye Centers.

According to All About Vision, a website committed to eye care information, some eye centers offer “bargain” LASIK for as little as $499 per eye. However, that price can be misleading, the site warns. Some of the issues with so-called deals include:

  • Pricing that might cover only mild nearsightedness, with other problems costing much more
  • Possible additional fees, including a charge for an initial consultation (which many eye doctors offer for free)
  • Extra follow-up visit charges that you might have to pay
  • Older technology used for the procedure instead of the latest equipment

According to All About Vision, you’ll likely pay between $1,500 and $2,500 per eye, based on a report prepared by Market Scope:

How to pay for LASIK: average costs

Image credit: All About Vision

As you can see, you can expect to pay between $3,000 and $5,000 for your LASIK procedure on both eyes. However, it might cost more, depending on where you live and the severity of your eyesight issues.

LASIK can save you money over time

The surgery sounds expensive. But continuing to pay for corrective products and services can cost even more over your lifetime, Modi pointed out.

“LASIK is life-changing not only in regards to one’s vision but also one’s pocket,” said Modi. “The average 25-year-old may spend $20,000 or more in their lifetime for glasses and contacts, and still have the problem.”

Indeed, my contact lenses cost about $110 for a six-month supply. That’s $220 per year. From age 18 (when I started buying my own contacts) until now, I’ve paid about $4,400. That doesn’t include all the specialized costs of contact lens eye exams or the costs associated with buying glasses.

At this rate, if I live until age 85, Modi’s expense estimate wouldn’t be that far-fetched. Figuring out how to pay for LASIK surgery could be a significant money-saver in the long run.

How to pay for LASIK surgery

Instead of trying to get the lowest price, Modi suggested looking for a LASIK surgeon or eye care center that uses state-of-the-art equipment and then using some financing options to cover the costs.

Here are four strategies to consider when looking into how to pay for LASIK.

1. Save up using a bank account

Consider saving up for LASIK eye surgery with a specific goal in mind. If your target amount is $4,000, decide how much you need to set aside in a regular savings account each month for your eye surgery. If you want to get the procedure done in six months, you’d need to save $666.67 each month.

That can seem like a daunting task, however. Finding more than $600 a month to save is a huge challenge for many of us. But you may be surprised to discover that, with some clever savings tricks, you might have the money.

2. Use money from your FSA or HSA

Check the balance in your tax-advantaged health account. Your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA) already might have the money you need.

Some employers match some FSA and HSA contributions, so if you’ve been contributing pretax money regularly to either of these accounts, there could be free money ready for you to use.

The IRS considers the amount you pay to correct defective vision — including laser eye surgery — a “qualified medical expense” and eligible for FSA and HSA funds.

Even if you don’t have enough money in your tax-advantaged health account to cover the entire procedure, you might be able to reduce your out-of-pocket costs by using an FSA or HSA for some of your expenses.

3. Get financing through your eye doctor

“I’m a big believer in providing as many financing opportunities as possible to the patient,” said Chris Walton, a board-certified ophthalmologist who focuses on LASIK surgery. “We use two different third-party finance companies that offer very favorable no-interest plans and flexible payment options.”

However, you do need to watch out for some of the realities involved with these options, Walton warned. A credit check will be needed, so the best interest rates and terms on these loans might not be available if you have poor credit.

Most eye doctors don’t offer true in-house financing, said Walton, because of the financial risks to the service providers. Instead, they set up agreements with third parties such as CareCredit and Alphaeon, which specialize in small loans for medical expenses.

4. Borrow money via a personal loan

It’s possible to get a personal loan from a private company to help you as you decide how to pay for LASIK. Depending on your credit and income situation, you might be able to get a good deal on a personal loan.

Compare the potential cost of third-party financing through your eye doctor along with other borrowing options, such as credit card financing. Getting multiple quotes on interest rates and other terms can help you make the best choice.

Use our personal loan calculator to get an idea of the monthly payments you’ll face. Here’s an example of a three-year loan:

How to pay for LASIK: monthly payments

If you don’t have the time to save up and don’t have money left in your FSA or HSA, a personal loan can be one solution with affordable monthly payments — although it will cost you in interest charges.

Combine strategies when you plan how to pay for LASIK

Put together a plan to help you as you decide how to pay for LASIK surgery. You might not need to finance the entire procedure if you can combine strategies. Consider saving up for at least some of the costs by using a bank account or one of the tax-advantaged health accounts to reduce how much you end up borrowing.

Between the use of specialized accounts and the expansion of financing options, “LASIK is affordable to nearly everyone,” Walton said.

Interested in a personal loan?

Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2018!
LenderRates (APR)Loan Amount 
1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Personal LoansFixed rates from 6.58% APR to 14.87% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 6.275% APR to 12.575% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of July 16, 2018 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 6.275% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 2.10% plus 4.175% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  • Personal Loan Rate DisclosureFixed interest rates from 6.49% – 19.49% (6.49% – 19.49% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates range from 5.99%-18.99% (5.99%-18.99% APR), are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  1. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  2. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

  • Personal Loan Rate DisclosureFixed interest rates from 6.49% – 19.49% (6.49% – 19.49% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates range from 5.99%-18.99% (5.99%-18.99% APR), are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  1. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  2. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
7.73% – 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000
Check rate nowon SLH's secure site
6.28% – 14.87%1$5,000 - $100,000
Check rate nowon SLH's secure site
6.87% – 35.97%*$1,000 - $50,000Visit Upgrade
8.00% – 25.00%$5,000 - $35,000
Check rate nowon SLH's secure site
4.99% – 29.99%$10,000 - $35,000Visit FreedomPlus
5.99% – 18.99%2$5,000 - $50,000Visit Citizens
15.49% – 34.49%$2,000 - $25,000Visit LendingPoint
5.99% – 35.89%$1,000 - $40,000Visit LendingClub
5.49% – 18.24%$5,000 - $75,000Visit Earnest
9.95% – 35.99%$2,000 - $35,000Visit Avant
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.