The Cost of LASIK Surgery

Understanding the structure behind the cost of LASIK Surgery...

Based on my own experience as administrator of an ophthalmology practice, I have noticed that; the cost of LASIK surgery will never stop to be dynamic because there are no other references to calculate the initial cost more than the one that it is provided by the major Excimer Laser companies.

If you are one of those who wonder why some people pay 299 USD per eye and others pay over 3000 USD per eye, while according to many sources the average price for a conventional LASIK procedure in the U.S does not exceed 1800 USD per both eyes, then you are in the right place.

You see! All these numbers are the results of a compilation of information from many sources, however, the true is that it is almost impossible to represent the cost of this procedure with a single figure, because the expenses that this procedure requires current and for the years ahead is guide by a latent combination of many factors, including; the surgeon's experience in addition to the (Market demand).

There are many potential candidates who wants to know more about the real cost of LASIK surgery to ensure they are paying the right price for the procedure, but without really understanding all the aspects that need to be considered to come out with an accurate price. The fact of the matter is that we see plenty information about LASIK - FAQs and (Frequently Asked Questions), but not so much about its cost, which leaves the community a little misinformed on this aspect. However, the true is; there is no official method to calculate the cost of LASIK surgery, therefore, this task could be complex and challenging, even for those who work in this field. The reason is simple; most LASIK service providers use their own judgment to select the model and brand that suit their needs, particularly for their surgical skills, but no one has all the Excimer Laser model of each brand. And so, if we don't have this critical information to compare or I should say; access to each Excimer Laser model and brand to analyze the detailed costs needed to cover each different procedure, we will be unable to expressed in just one figure or one average figure the cost of LASIK surgery. Let me explain you why!

If we take into consideration that initial references of the LASIK surgery cost are coming from Excimer Laser providers and we take as an example only five brands of the latest Excimer Laser machines, and then we multiply by the variety of treatments that emerge from the original procedure, which includes: (LASEK, EPI-LASIK, PRK and Monovision), we instantly have twenty different prices. Now we can also take the following formula as a reference; If we take the five Excimer laser brands and we multiply by two (custom and traditional surgery) we also have 10 different prices.

But technology is one part of the entire equation, in fact, location place another important role, in other words if we take these 10 different prices and distribute them throughout the 54 states of the country, obviously the price would change again.

And so, now you begin to understand how much data we need in order to provide a realistic average price to the table, however, now we all know that there is a base price from where everything start, so let review that for a moment!

References to calculate the cost of LASIK

Image for LASIK surgery cost pageCertainly there is a start point to established a final LASIK cost to consumers, which truly begins with how much spend is required in order to have access to an Excimer Laser machine, among many other details. But as you can imagen, within Excimer Laser Industry there are some varieties of technology, hence, obviously we would see different prices which also implies different cost for maintenance and functionality. Although, many solo ophthalmology practices do not have the privilege of having its own Excimer Laser in their facilities, there are many who do, however, those who do, are very likely affiliated with other doctors in order to reduce this big spending. And so, the amount of money that is required in order to use an Excimer Laser gives a strong foundation to the main structure of the price. Now, we have to consider that technology could be quite expensive specially when we talk about Health Care Industry, and so consumers should know that all the LASIK surgery providers need to determinate how much they must spend in order to perform your surgery, before being laid to consumers.

But even though Excimer Lasers are expensive no to mention its maintenance, consumers should know that it is just one part of the entire equation, and so let’s take a moment here in order to explain what other expenses the surgeon takes into consideration when setting a fee schedule.

* Geographic Location
* Technology
* Malpractice Insurance
* Surgical Team fees

Location

This factor is based on market competition. As you can imagine, if a doctor charges $1800 per eye for a conventional LASIK surgery, the other doctors will probably charge the same as long as they use the same or technology.

Technology

This is one of the most important factors that influence LASIK cost, because doctors must pay monthly payments to the bank or entities where they borrowed the money to purchase or lease the latest Excimer Laser, plus the rate established by this entity. Obviously if they purchase in cash, they have to do as many surgeries as they can, in order to recover the investment as soon as possible and start getting some profit.

Consider that the cost of the last generation of Excimer Laser is between $460,000 to $550,000 to perform traditional procedures and $540,000 to $680,000 to perform custom procedures, plus after a 1 year guarantee maintenance fees are around $20,000 to $62,000 a year. This means that if the doctor doesn’t have more than 10 LASIK surgeries per month, “LASIK business is not worth it” for them. If the doctor leases or rent the Excimer laser, there is also a charge for a key card every time that the Excimer Laser is used, and that cost starts around $110 per conventional treatments and $240 for custom treatment.  The charge for each card varies depending on the number of surgeries performed and no all the Excimer Laser brands use this kind of key card system.

There is a second very important factor here; that is the type of equipment used to create the flap. If the doctor has the Microkeratome which is mechanical device, the price is approximately $45.000 or a femtosecond laser which the cost could be over $350,000. The type of equipment used by your doctor in order to create the flap has a big impact on the final fee charged for your procedure.

Malpractice Insurance

Insurance premium paid by doctors depends on the doctors' specialty, claims filed and paid by the insurance company, number of patients that he/she attends, the kind of treatment that will be covered and the amount of coverage that is required by the State law. (Average is between $18,000 to $50,000 a year).

Surgical Team Fees

This means how much the cost of the staff is required to perform the surgery. This should include the doctor fees.

Summary

So based on all these factors plus the miscellaneous:  such as Premix, Nitrogen, Helium for the Excimer Laser, disposable surgical equipment, medical anesthesia items, instrument, eye drops etc, the doctor could assume for a conventional LASIK surgery an approximate cost of $199 to $290, and for a custom LASIK an approximate cost of $490 to $690.

All these costs are based on the five different brands of Excimer Laser on the market, however, we have to emphasize that all these figures are actually leading us to no more than two ways to figure the real cost of LASIK eye surgery (from surgeon's perspective), also have to clarify that if one of the preview factors change, the impact will be reflected dramatically in the final cost of the LASIK service provider and eventually it would affect the cost of LASIK eye surgery to the final consumer.

With this information you will be able to determine if you are getting what you pay for in your procedure; that is, asking the right questions to get a better understanding of your surgery and more confident if you decide to go ahead with the eye procedure, in addition we have to mention that LASIK Financing options could also impact slightly the criteria used when service providers are establishing their LASIK eye surgery cost.

If you need adittional information about the cost of LASIK procedures, please click here!

Additional data!

After increasing for a number of years, LASIK prices steadied from 2006 to 2009, a trend which appears to be continuing into 2010. According to industry sources, the LASIK cost average – per eye – in late 2006 was about $1,950. In 2007, prices averaged $2,099 and increased only moderately in 2008, to $2,105. Similarly, a minimal rise was seen in 2009, with prices averaging then about $2,140. Of course, these prices don’t reflect any extra fees for additional procedures – most notably one which uses a laser to create a flap on the eye’s surface, and another called wavefront analysis, which directs the way a laser reshapes the eye.

Not surprisingly, the reason LASIK prices have remained relatively stable since late 2008 is due largely to the currently bleak state of the U.S. economy. According to industry reports, just over one million LASIK procedures had been performed annually – and steadily – in the U.S. over the past few years, that is, until the economy experienced a major downturn in early 2008. Indeed, many individuals who may have been considering LASIK appear to be, for the time being, opting for more economical vision correction options – such as glasses or contact lenses.

Obviously, the impact of a weakened economy is being felt at laser centers across the country. For instance, Cincinnati, Ohio-based LCA-Vision in June 2009 reported that the number of procedures being done at their 75 U.S.- and Canada-based vision correction surgery centers had dropped 45 percent from the previous year. In fact, in late 2009, LCA-Vision was preparing to close the 10 least profitable of its 81 centers. Similarly, St. Louis, Missouri-based TLCVision, which also owns vision correction surgical centers across the country, reported a 38 percent drop-off in procedures for the first quarter of 2009, along with an overall 32 percent decrease throughout the first three quarters of 2009.

Last updated June 01, 2013

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