In 2017 the average basic laser cataract surgery cost in the U.S. ranged from $3,600 to $6,000 per eye if you paid everything yourself. For an advanced technology lens, which corrects astigmatism, there’s usually an additional $500 or $1,000 cost per eye. For a multifocal lens, there are extra costs ranging from $1,500 to $4,000; however, costs can fall outside of those ranges as well.
Variables That Affect Laser Cataract Surgery Cost
As with anything else, there are many variables in laser cataract surgery costs. The type of lens, the preoperative testing, where one has the surgery (urban vs rural), type of technology used during surgery, skill, and experience of the cataract surgeon, and length of after-care can all affect the cost of the procedure.
Paying for Laser Cataract Surgery
For many patients, Medicare or commercial health insurance covers traditional cataract surgery, but unfortunately, the insurance often doesn’t cover everything. Typically, there are costs not covered by Medicare or private health insurance because they are for procedures or products (such as upgraded lenses or using a laser-assisted technique) that aren’t considered medically necessary by the insurance company. Those expenses, however, may be necessary in order to achieve the best visual results. Because of that, many people opt to pay out of pocket or set up financing with their eye doctor.
Insurance Coverage for Intraocular Lenses
Intraocular lenses (IOL) are devices implanted inside the eye to replace the natural lens removed during cataract surgery. IOLs are also used for a type of vision correction called refractive lens exchange which is a refractive surgery procedure in which the crystalline lens of the eye is removed and replaced with an artificial lens implant to correct refractive error. In this situation, because your natural lens is removed during cataract surgery, Medicare and most insurance companies tend to cover the entire cost of traditional cataract surgery.
This is because your eye needs an artificial, prescription lens to restore sight when the cataract-affected lens is removed. While determining the basic prescription power of the IOL is often covered as well, advanced testing to determine the refractive state of the eye and several other eye screenings may not be covered by insurance, but those tests are recommended to achieve the best results, especially for patients with astigmatism.
Insurance Coverage for Astigmatism
Astigmatism correction is usually not covered during basic cataract surgery. That’s because this can be corrected by eyeglasses, even though the surgery corrects astigmatism better than glasses. Again, if you want to achieve the very best vision possible and not have to rely on glasses following the procedure, you need to go above and beyond what your insurance covers and request that your eye doctor correct your astigmatism during laser cataract surgery at an additional fee that you will generally be responsible for.
Laser Cataract Surgery Is Safe and Effective
Traditional cataract surgery remains a very safe and effective procedure, but many physicians believe that laser cataract surgery is definitely the next step to further improve the safety and outcomes of people having cataract surgery. In fact, most cataract surgeons believe that eventually all cataract surgery will be performed using a laser, and as time goes on and the procedure becomes more popular, the prices will likely go down.