LASIK Surgery: Does Medicare Cover It? (2023)

  • LASIK eye surgery can correct vision problems, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
  • Because it is an elective procedure, it’s generally not covered by original Medicare.
  • Some Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans may cover some or all of the costs of LASIK surgery.

LASIK eye surgery is an outpatient procedure done to correct vision issues such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.

If you have original Medicare and your doctor has recommended LASIK for you, you may be wondering whether your insurance will pay for it.

Medicare covers only surgeries that are considered medically necessary. Since LASIK is an elective procedure, original Medicare doesn’t cover it.

However, if you have Medicare Advantage, you may have some coverage under your plan.

Read on to learn more about Medicare coverage for LASIK and how to get the most coverage possible.

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Original Medicare, made up of Part A and Part B, doesn’t provide coverage for vision care in most instances. Parts A and B originally don’t cover:

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  • eye exams
  • eyeglasses
  • contact lenses
  • surgical procedures to correct vision

However, there are exceptions for medically necessary services. These include: cataract surgery and treatments for eye diseases, such as:

  • age-related macular degeneration
  • glaucoma
  • diabetic retinopathy

LASIK surgery isn’t usually done to prevent blindness and isn’t categorized as medically necessary. It is an elective procedure done to improve vision, which can alternatively be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses.

For that reason, it’s not covered by Medicare.

What if I have a Medigap plan?

Since Medigap covers only services approved by Medicare, it doesn’t cover the cost of LASIK surgery.

Will Medicare Advantage cover LASIK?

Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans often include vision coverage. Some plans will cover all or some of the cost of LASIK.

Since plans and their coverage vary, you shouldn’t assume that your Part C plan will pay for this procedure. In the next sections, we’ll discuss how to confirm whether your plan offers this coverage.

If you’re considering LASIK, you may be able to take certain steps to get coverage:

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  1. First, talk with your eye doctor. They probably have patients on Medicare who have had LASIK surgery done. If so, they may be able to provide insight into Part C plans in your area that cover the cost — or a percentage of the cost — for this procedure.
  2. If you’re new to Medicare, currently have original Medicare or a Medicare Part C plan that doesn’t cover LASIK, you can use Medicare’s plan finder tool to compare plans in your area that are a better fit.
  3. You can contact your local Medicare State Health Insurance Assistance Program to get information about plans in your area that provide this benefit.
  4. If you want to switch from original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan that covers LASIK, you may do so during open enrollment, which runs annually from October 15 to December 7. During open enrollment, you can also switch from one Part C plan to another.
  5. If you currently have Part C and wish to change plans, you can also do so during the annual Medicare Advantage open enrollment period, which runs from January 1 to March 31.

The costs for LASIK vary from doctor to doctor and from state to state. Factors that may play a role include:

  • your vision
  • the type of laser and technology used
  • the doctor’s level of expertise

The consultation with your doctor to determine whether you’re a good candidate for LASIK may include multiple tests and eye measurements. This exam alone may cost several hundred dollars in some instances.

You’ll also need follow-up visits after the procedure to see how your eyes are healing.

Ask your doctor what the costs for all of these visits are upfront and if they’re folded into the total cost of LASIK surgery. The LASIK procedure itself usually averages around $4,200.

Temporary eyeglasses, sunglasses, or contact lenses may also be required, resulting in additional out-of-pocket costs.

All these costs add up and may mean LASIK isn’t an affordable option for you without help. If so, talk with your doctor. They may offer a low- or no-interest financing plan that can help you pay for LASIK over 1 or 2 years.

There are also vision insurance plans for older adults that you may wish to buy. These plans can provide extra coverage to your current Medicare insurance.

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Not every vision insurance plan covers the cost of LASIK surgery. As with any insurance plan you’re considering, make sure to find out exactly what’s covered before you purchase the plan.

LASIK is typically done to eliminate the need for eyeglasses or contact lenses. If LASIK is too expensive, you may be better off staying with your current prescription lenses or trying a different type that works better for you.

When considering the costs, keep in mind that LASIK will save you the money you would’ve spent on eyeglasses or contact lenses and cleansing solutions.

This can represent a savings of several thousand dollars over time, making LASIK an affordable option when considering the long-term costs.

What should never be an option is LASIK that’s advertised as very inexpensive or downright cheap. Your eyes and vision are precious and shouldn’t be gambled with. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

What is LASIK?

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LASIK is an outpatient procedure that’s done to reshape the corneas, usually in both eyes, to improve your vision. It typically takes around 30 minutes for both eyes.

LASIK doesn’t require general anesthesia. Some patients are given medication to help them relax during the procedure.

Here’s an overview of what typically happens during the LASIK procedure:

  1. Before the procedure, your doctor will place numbing drops in each eye.
  2. Your eyes will be held open with an instrument, and you’ll be instructed to focus on a beam of light.
  3. A suction ring will be placed on your eye.
  4. Your doctor will use a small blade or cutting laser to cut a thin corneal flap in the front of your eye, which can be folded back to expose the cornea.
  5. The cornea is reshaped through the removal of microscopic corneal tissue cells.
  6. The flap is then laid back over the cornea.
  7. The procedure is repeated on your other eye.

It may take between 2 to 3 months to heal completely and see your final results.

According to Mayo Clinic, 8 out of 10 people report having 20/20 or near-20/20 vision and no longer needing eyeglasses or contact lenses after LASIK.

While rare, there are risks that may occur with the LASIK procedure. Some of these risks include:

  • dry eyes
  • glare, halos, or double vision
  • problems healing
  • vision loss or changes
  • regression back to previous vision prescription

The takeaway

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  • LASIK is an outpatient surgical procedure that’s done to improve vision.
  • Many people report that they no longer need to wear eyeglasses or contact lenses after having LASIK surgery.
  • Since it’s an elective procedure, original Medicare doesn’t cover LASIK.
  • Some Medicare Part C plans cover some or all of the cost of LASIK.

The information on this website may assist you in making personal decisions about insurance, but it is not intended to provide advice regarding the purchase or use of any insurance or insurance products. Healthline Media does not transact the business of insurance in any manner and is not licensed as an insurance company or producer in any U.S. jurisdiction. Healthline Media does not recommend or endorse any third parties that may transact the business of insurance.


How much does LASIK cost? ›

The Average Cost of LASIK Eye Surgery. The cost of LASIK eye surgery varies drastically, ranging anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 per eye. However, the average price for LASIK surgery in the U.S. in 2020 was $2,632 per eye, according to a 2021 report in Clinical Ophthalmology.

What makes you a poor candidate for LASIK? ›

Some of these conditions include glaucoma, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS. Having any injuries and infections can negatively affect your vision. Also, your doctor will consider if you have dry eyes or not. Dry eye is another condition that makes LASIK less than ideal.

What would make you not eligible for laser eye surgery? ›

So, the types of conditions that stop people from having laser eye surgery are divided up into eye conditions where people have either severe dry eye, or any other abnormality of the shape of the cornea such as keratoconus.

How many years does LASIK last? ›

While the effects of LASIK surgery are permanent, the benefits can decrease over time. For most patients, the results of LASIK will last a lifetime. About 10-12% of patients nationwide will need an enhancement surgery because of anatomical changes to the eye/eyes.

How long does LASIK Last per eye? ›

Most people still see the effects of their LASIK forever. However, some may need to have enhancement LASIK surgery after 10 years. The reason for this can vary depending on the age when getting LASIK and vision health.

Is 50 too old for LASIK? ›

The good news is that no one is too mature for laser vision correction. You may be able to schedule LASIK after 50 years old. You should know that not everyone is a candidate for LASIK.

What eyes cant get LASIK? ›

You have certain eye conditions. Additional eye conditions may not disqualify you from LASIK, but they do need to be reviewed by your eye doctor. Conditions like blepharitis, large pupils, thin corneas, previous refractive surgery, and dry eyes have the potential to disqualify you from LASIK.

What prescription is too high for LASIK? ›

In order to qualify for LASIK, your eyes must meet certain requirements. The average refractive prescription that qualifies for laser eye surgery is: Nearsighted ness up to -8.0 diopters. Astigmatism up to -3.0 diopters.

Can you claim laser eye surgery on Medicare? ›

No, Medicare doesn't typically cover laser eye surgery, since it's considered a cosmetic procedure (i.e. you want to remove your need for glasses). However, if you have a certain eye disease and require medically necessary treatment, the cost of your surgery may be covered or subsidised.

What is the minimum prescription for LASIK? ›

A refractive error is measured in diopters — a unit used to denote the strength of your lens. To qualify for the newest LASIK technology (topography-guided LASIK), your refractive prescription should fall within the following: Up to -8.0 diopters of nearsightedness, or. Up to -3.0 diopters of astigmatism, or.

Is there a difference between LASIK and laser eye surgery? ›

Types of LASIK Surgery. The most important thing to know about the difference between laser surgery and Lasik surgery is that there is no difference. Lasik surgery is a type of laser surgery. In fact, Lasik is an acronym for the procedure that is formally known as laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis.

Will you need glasses after LASIK? ›

What many don't realize is that LASIK surgery doesn't protect against age-related eye conditions or remove certain refractive errors caused by the thickness of the cornea. For this reason, even individuals who have had successful LASIK surgery may need glasses.

How many times can you redo LASIK? ›

Surgeons can perform a second LASIK surgery, called enhancement, several years after the first surgery. A repeat surgery can be repeated immediately after the recovery time of the first surgery ends or many years after. Additionally, there is no limit to the number of times one can undergo repeat LASIK surgeries.

At what age is LASIK not worth it? ›

LASIK eye surgery age limits

At around age 40, your eyes start to change, and you may develop presbyopia – farsightedness due to age – which could affect your candidacy for LASIK. Your eyes change again at around age 60, with age-related vision problems such as cataracts possibly presenting at this time.

Can I drive 2 days after LASIK? ›

How Soon after LASIK Surgery Can I Drive? The length of time each patient must wait to drive after LASIK surgery will vary based on the individual. However, most people are given their doctor's approval to drive as soon as the day after surgery. A post-op exam will be performed the day after surgery.

Can you blink during LASIK? ›

Among the most frequently asked questions: What happens if I sneeze or blink during my LASIK surgery? The short answer: Blinking or sneezing will not affect the outcome of your surgery.

What happens if you move your eye during LASIK? ›

One fear that many people may have is about what will happen if they move their eyes while undergoing LASIK surgery. The good news is that moving your eye during LASIK will not cause a problem. LASIK surgery is incredibly quick which reduces your need to move your eye.

Is it worth getting LASIK after 60? ›

And people aged 60 and older are at a greater risk for cataracts and glaucoma, which cloud the lens of the eye and damage the optic nerve respectively. But there are plenty of people in their 40's, 50's, 60's and beyond who have relatively healthy eyes and therefore may still be perfectly good candidates for LASIK.

Is LASIK effective after age 60? ›

Candidacy for LASIK surgery is typically not dependent upon age, but upon the stability and health of the eye. While the minimum age for LASIK surgery is 18 years old, there is technically no age limit for laser vision correction.

Is LASIK painful? ›

Fortunately, LASIK eye surgery is not painful. Right before your procedure, your surgeon will place numbing eye drops into both of your eyes. While you may still feel a little bit of pressure during the procedure, you should not feel any pain.

Can your eyes reject LASIK? ›

The most common reason for rejecting LASIK was suboptimal central corneal thickness (55.1%). High myopia > -12.00 diopters (18.4%), keratoconus (9.6%), and hyperopia (5.9%) were other significant reasons.

How soon after LASIK can I shower? ›

Nunnery advise patients that it is okay to bathe or shower normally the day after your LASIK eye surgery. For the first week after your LASIK surgery, it's important to keep water, soap, hair care products and/or washing liquids away from the eye. Do not rub your eyes while bathing.

Can LASIK improve vision more than glasses? ›

In general, most people who have laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) eye surgery achieve 20/20 vision or better, which works well for most activities. But most people still eventually need glasses for driving at night or reading as they get older.

Can LASIK fix high astigmatism? ›

High amounts of astigmatism can be corrected with LASIK, though this increases the likelihood a follow-up LASIK enhancement may be needed to fine-tune the correction. LASIK for astigmatism is an excellent option when compared to other alternatives like eyeglasses or contact lenses.

What type of eye surgery Does Medicare pay for? ›

Medicare covers: Surgical procedures to help repair the function of the eye due to chronic eye conditions. For example, Medicare will cover surgery to remove a cataract and replace your eye's lens with a fabricated intraocular lens.

How Much Does Medicare pay for laser cataract surgery? ›

Original Medicare covers 80% of the cost of cataract surgery, and patients are responsible for paying the remaining 20% (either out-of-pocket or with supplemental insurance) after meeting their yearly Part B deductible. Medicare Advantage plans, however, may require a copay.

Can you claim insurance for LASIK surgery? ›

For example, LASIK eye surgery will be covered under a medical insurance plan only if: The refractive error is caused by an accident or injury and needs corrective eye surgery. Other surgery leads to a refractive error requiring LASIK eye surgery for correction.

Is there anything better than LASIK eye surgery? ›

If you have thin or flat corneas, LASEK is one of the best alternatives to LASIK. LASEK (laser epithelial keratomileusis) is a version of PRK. It is used to treat astigmatism, nearsightedness, or farsightedness. During the procedure the epithelium is detached, moistened with a diluted alcohol solution, and folded back.

Which is better cataract surgery or LASIK? ›

With that said, cataract surgery and LASIK surgery help correct different eye conditions and issues. Cataract surgery corrects cataracts, which involve clouding of the lens in the eye. In contrast, LASIK surgery corrects the way light is focused on the retina by reshaping the cornea.

Does laser eye surgery get rid of cataracts? ›

But can eye surgeons use it to treat cataracts? The short answer is no. Eye surgeons use laser eye surgery to correct refractive errors such as short-sightedness, long sightedness, and astigmatism. They cannot use it to remove cataracts.

Is LASIK cheaper than glasses? ›

LASIK certainly has a higher upfront price than glasses. Nevertheless, because of the lasting results, it could save you money over time. This long-term outlook, coupled with the many other benefits of laser eye surgery, could make it a great investment in your health and future.

Is LASIK worth it financially? ›

The Bottom Line. When compared to the costs of wearing contacts or glasses for the rest of your life, LASIK is well worth it. Despite the larger upfront cost, LASIK eventually pays for itself — it actually saves you money in the end.

Is a LASIK surgery worth it? ›

Most people who undergo LASIK surgery will have good to excellent vision in most situations, for many years or decades. You'll be able to play sports and swim, or even just see the clock first thing in the morning, without having to worry about your glasses or contact lenses.

Is LASIK free in UK? ›

It depends on what eye condition you have. Laser surgery is available on the NHS for eye conditions that, without treatment, can lead to loss of vision.

Can I wear any sunglasses after LASIK? ›

Also, even post-LASIK surgery, you should continue wearing sunglasses. Sunglasses protect your eyes from the sun's harmful rays. Sunglasses can also keep harmful particles, dust, or other debris out of your eyes as they recover.

Is there a better option than LASIK? ›

The four alternatives to traditional LASIK eye surgery are LASEK, Phakic Intraocular Lens Implants, Epi-LASIK, and Refractive Lens Exchange Surgery. If you have thin or flat corneas, LASEK is one of the best LASIK alternatives. The procedure doesn't involve the use of a laser or blade.

Do you see better with LASIK or glasses? ›

Lasik, on the other hand, will correct astigmatism by reshaping the cornea, eliminating the irregular shape of the cornea permanently. As a result, patients with astigmatism frequently notice their vision is better after LASIK than it ever was with contacts or glasses.

Why does LASIK last forever? ›

Because LASIK uses a laser to physically reshape the cornea to improve its focusing ability, this makes it a permanent treatment for the existing vision prescription at the time of surgery. But, our eyes – like other parts of our body – change over time.

Does LASIK cause problems later in life? ›

While there is the potential for long-term negative effects, such as dry eye or halos around lights, these side effects most often resolve within three to six months. Patients are overwhelmingly satisfied with the results of LASIK, and long-term complications are very rare.

Can astigmatism be cured? ›

While astigmatism cannot be cured, glasses and contact lenses can be used to treat the blurry vision that results from having astigmatism. For those wishing for a more permanent solution to blurry vision, refractive surgery is required.

Are you awake during laser eye surgery? ›

A common concern among potential LASIK patients is whether they will be awake during the procedure. Yes—patients are awake during LASIK. However, there is no need to worry if you accidentally blink or move your eyes during the surgery.


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