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Laser Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK), and Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) are the two most commonly performed procedures to correct myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. You want the operation to be a success without side effects.
However, only two of these financing options give you the freedom to choose an ophthalmology center based on their ability to improve your vision permanently. Personal loans and Flexible Spending Accounts offer you the funding to pick any provider.
Also, the number of installments is the primary driver behind the initial affordability of any monthly payment plan. However, small monthly payments mean longer terms and higher borrowing costs overall. Choose carefully.
Laser Eye Surgery Financing Options
Patients have multiple financing options for laser eye surgery to help them afford LASIK now by paying in small installments over time. You can get started right away even though you might not have enough cash on hand to fund the average cost of $2,200 per eye.
Start a personal loan request here for funding that allows you to pick any ophthalmologist. People with adverse credit history on their consumer report need a good strategy, while those with better credentials can work with patient finance companies – if they want to lock themselves into one ophthalmologist.
Financing LASIK eye surgery with bad credit requires creative thinking to find a realistic and affordable alternative. An adverse history appearing on your consumer report is a red flag that causes lenders to reject most patients, and charge more to those they approve.
- The risk of default is too high to approve many prospective applicants
- Approved borrowers pay more costly origination fees and higher interest rates
Looking at online companies is the best strategy – if your employer does not offer a Flexible Spending Account (FSA). An FSA is always the ideal starting point for many reasons.
Online personal loan lenders often approve a higher percentage of LASIK financing requests from patients with bad credit history. Online companies specialize in working with consumers that brick and mortar banks typically bypass.
Furthermore, people with low FICO scores have to be careful about hurting their rating further with too many hard inquiries. A hard inquiry shows that you are seeking a new borrowing relationship and lowers your credit score by about 5 points at the bureau furnishing the report.
Follow these three strategies.
- Submit an online loan request to a lead broker who markets your profile to an extensive network of online lenders. Receive solicitations from the network companies after a single soft inquiry, which does not affect your FICO score.
- No credit check companies pull alternative reports from bureaus not named Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. The resulting hard inquiry logs on the non-traditional file and does not affect your traditional FICO score.
- Federal and postal employees can take advantage of payroll allotment loans. The lender takes payment directly from your paycheck before you have a chance to spend the money elsewhere. Payroll allotment boosts approval rates.
Your employer’s Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is the ideal way to finance LASIK for patients with bad credit. In fact, using an FSA should be the first alternative for people of all borrowing qualifications because the benefits are overwhelmingly positive.
Take these steps to use an FSA to fund your laser eye surgery.
- Elect to make a full contribution ($2,700) during open enrollment
- Schedule the elective procedure at the beginning of the FSA plan year
- Pay with an FSA debit card or submit a claim immediately after the operation
- Your employer must honor the claim BEFORE you contribute to the account
- Repay your employer over the next 12 months using pre-tax money
Your employer cannot perform a credit check, deny your request for poor credit or lack of borrowing history, or charge interest when offering an FSA to employees. Also, pre-tax payroll deductions reduce the amount you pay in income and FICA taxes.
Several Laser Eye surgery finance companies offer ways for people to pay for the procedure in installments rather than the full amount upfront. However, patient finance companies lock you into using the participating ophthalmologist.
On the other hand, personal loans feature monthly installments while giving you the flexibility to choose the surgical center with the best record for improving vision.
The LASIK Plus financing department publishes several options on its website. Take the time to scroll to the bottom of their page to review the footnoted disclaimers for each alternative.
- CareCredit is their primary financing partner. However, you must meet the CareCredit underwriting criteria to qualify for the most favorable terms.
- Guaranteed In-House Premier Pay is the fallback alternative for people who fail the CareCredit approval requirements. Keep in mind that guaranteed approval always means less favorable borrowing terms no matter which company you choose. LASIK Plus is no exception as the down payment requirement could be 50% of the total cost.
- Down payment amounts range from $0 up to $1,000 per eye
- Interest rates range from 0% to 15% based on FICO score
LASIK Vision Institute
It appears that third-party patient finance companies fund the LASIK Vision Institute programs. The corporate website lists very general information about their options.
- Easy process
- High success rate
- Custom programs
- Zero down payments
- Payment options
However, an online reviewer indicates that his local LASIK Vision Institute offices referred him to a third party company named HealthCare Finance Direct. They may use other 3rd party patient finance companies. Therefore, you may have to delay doing your homework on the ultimate company until after your initial appointment.
You can use a CareCredit healthcare credit card to finance LASIK, RPK, other vision services such as eyeglasses, cataract surgery, and even breast enhancement or weight loss operations. A credit card is a revolving account with flexible repayment terms.
However, flexibility can be a dual-edged sword. Therefore, it is crucial for patients to review the Care Credit terms and conditions before any procedure. You should understand what to expect.
- Zero-Percent promotional periods can save money. However, you pay a hefty 26.99% interest rate on the revolving balance if you fail to retire the full amount by the end of the promotional period.
- Providers must agree to in advance to pay higher transaction (interchange) fees to CareCredit. Many choose not to do so. Therefore, people may not select the ophthalmologist best suited to correct their vision.
Laser Eye Surgery Payment Plans
Monthly payment plans for laser eye surgery typically use one of the financing alternatives noted above. Most often, the practice refers patients to a company more experienced in making underwriting decisions, billing, and collections. Most surgery centers specialize in improving vision and leave the dirty finance work to others.
However, the ophthalmology group that you decide to work with does determine what you ultimately pay for the operation. Naturally, these costs (the amount you borrow) along with the number of monthly installment payments determine how much you must pay each period.
Cost with Insurance
Factoring in your laser eye surgery costs with insurance has a modest impact on your monthly payment plan estimate. Most insurance plans classify the procedure as cosmetic because patients can correct their vision using cheaper eyeglasses. Therefore, both vision and healthcare plans reject most claims.
However, insurance may cover portions of the expense.
- Health insurance often pays for annual screenings for diseases of the eye
- Vision insurance typically covers exams to measure refractive errors
- Insurance company discount plans reduce prices providers charge members
Cost without Insurance
The average cost of bladeless eye surgery without insurance will be the primary factor driving the monthly payment plan amount. Most patients pay 100% of the fees out-of-pocket with little help from insurance, except where we noted above.
- PRK costs range from $1,500 to $1,700 per eye
- LASIK costs average about $2,077 per eye nationally
For example, a person financing $4, 154 with a 5% origination fee and a 15% interest rate could choose between five possible monthly amounts. The repayment term is the final variable.
As you can see, the five-year term provides the most “affordable” monthly amount initially but also grows the total borrowing charges by 50% at its conclusion. Therefore, choose your repayment term wisely.
Government grants for LASIK or PRK can factor into monthly payment plan estimates in ways most patients do not expect. A grant is a sum of money provided by another entity that you do not have to repay – as with a loan. Unfortunately, the federal government does not offer these awards to individuals.
However, there are at least two creative ways to tap into this “free money” to lower what you must spend to correct your vision permanently.
- Find clinical research trials seeking human Guinea pigs willing to undergo experimental treatments. The clinicaltrials.gov website is a good starting point to find government-funded research groups.
- Make the most of the federal tax deduction for unreimbursed medical expenses. A flexible spending account offers first dollar savings (see above), while deductions on Schedule A must first exceed 10% of adjusted gross income.