I’ve been doing LASIK surgery since the turn of this century, so I keep up on LASIK news. I hadn’t seen deeply discounted LASIK at unbelievable prices in quite a while. But recently, I have started to get emails offering me LASIK at $299 per eye.
As a physician practicing in today’s environment, I have a responsibility to ensure my patients are getting a fair price. When an EpiPen can cost $500, and drug prices can increase from $7.50 to $750 overnight, I must make sure that I consider price options when making recommendations for my patients.
In the past, knowing what it costs to operate a LASER and the cost of performing a safe and accurate LASIK procedure, it was evident that there weren’t many LASIK surgeries being performed at the advertised price of $299. It costs far more than $299 for the doctor to perform LASIK, not to mention the equipment costs for accurate testing and measurements.
I had been told by patients who had investigated the $299 LASIK offer, that the $299 LASIK wasn’t available for them. It seems as though $299 was just the starting price. The cost escalated soon after the consult started. This was second-hand information so I never really got the specific facts until now…
Recently I got an email offer which finally included the “fine print.” I’m going to break it down.
Following is a breakdown of the disclaimer on their low-cost offer:
“Prices based on prescription: up to -1.00 $299,”
The first phrase in the disclaimer is the main reason why so few $299 LASIK procedures are done. A -1.00 prescription is probably about 20/40 vision. You would still be able to drive an automobile both during the day and night. (There are stronger restrictions for nighttime driving.)
The pricing detail continues:
“…-1.25 to -2.0: $1099;
…-2.25 and up as well as all hyperopic and/or greater than -0.50 diopter of astigmatism: $1799.”
Then the other shoe drops. If you have a half of diopter of astigmatism that raises the price to $1799, which is now approaching a reasonable price for a standard LASIK procedure. Seventy percent of all prescriptions written in America have some astigmatism. Which means if there if there is a significant enough prescription that needs correction and one is given, three-quarters of the time it’s going to have astigmatism. The price has now hit the $1800 per eye mark.
“Individual results will vary.”
I got a chuckle from this portion of the disclaimer. Pretty obvious observation.
“Candidacy determined by an independent doctor located within or adjacent to the LASIK Vision Institute’s (LVI) facility. All procedures performed by an independent surgeon. Punctal plugs, assurance plans and other technologies available at additional cost. This offer may not be combined with other offers. Other conditions may apply.”
And then there’s the “additional cost” disclaimer. So even with the maximum quoted price of $1799 there are still add-on charges to consider.
The take-home message: you’re not likely to get LASIK (or do you need LASIK) at $299. There may be small variations in price for LASIK surgery by area doctors, but the costs for procedure tend to be similar.
The smart consumer considering LASIK surgery should be looking for other factors in making their decision. Choose your surgeon based on:
- Level of Experience,
- Successful Patient Outcomes,
- Equipment and Technology Used,
- Patient Satisfaction & Reviews,
- Overall Quality of Care.