LASIK surgery financing can make the procedure more affordable by breaking up the upfront cost into smaller monthly payments spread over time.
Laser-Assisted in Situ Keratomileusis (LASIK: $1,000 to $2,500 per eye) and Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK: $2,000 to $4,000 for both eyes) are both elective procedures that most patients self-pay.
Whether you have a terrible credit history or excellent credentials, it always pays to minimize the amount of money you must borrow – without jeopardizing your vision by picking the cheapest provider.
The IRS offers three government grant opportunities that make financing more attractive for many people. Meanwhile, insurance provides free treatment for few.
Financing LASIK with Bad Credit
Financing LASIK eye surgery with bad credit history and low FICO scores requires a strategy and proactive steps to overcome insufficient borrowing qualifications.
You help yourself more by addressing the issue before arriving at the vision center – lest you walk away disappointed when in-house payment plan options use stricter criteria.
Request a personal loan from a sub-prime lender. (Sponsored Link) Subprime finance companies operate via online channels and specialize in consumers with bad credit scores.
Submitting credentials to a lead broker casts a wide net. Having a vast network of online lenders review your profile increases approval odds.
Patients with weak borrowing credentials benefit from lining up financing in advance – rather than choosing a local ophthalmologist that offers payment plans. Would you go to your local bank branch to ask if they perform laser eye surgery?
Of course, that would be silly.
No Credit Check
A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is ideal for LASIK financing when patients have a bad credit history. Through unintended IRS rules, an FSA works like a loan based on income without a credit check.
Your employer cannot check your consumer report or consider your credit score and must accept all employees who choose to participate. Take these steps to set up an FSA-based loan.
- Elect to contribute during the annual open enrollment
- $2,750 per individual
- $5,500 married couple
- 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
How to Get LASIK for Free?
Getting LASIK eye surgery for free is the ideal financing option because your monthly payment would be zero. However, setting your sights on discounts might prove to be a more realistic expectation.
Getting insurance to pay for LASIK eye surgery is another way to get the procedure done for free – or at least at no additional cost beyond the monthly premiums you already pay.
However, this strategy rarely works because a cheaper option exists to correct your vision problem: prescription eyeglasses.
So, how do you get your health insurance to pay for LASIK? You have to show that the procedure is medically necessary rather than cosmetic: the corrective procedure treats a covered illness or injury.
Your health insurance could provide free care under rare circumstances: when a covered condition caused refractive damage, or the patient cannot wear glasses because of physical limitations associated with their nose or ears.
- Accidental injury to the eye
- Reverse damage from previous surgery
So, how do you get your vision insurance to pay for LASIK? You probably won’t be successful because most vision plans do not cover corrective eye surgery when glasses or contact lenses do the job.
However, your vision plan may include discounts if you use an in-network provider. In-network ophthalmologists agree to charge subscribers a contract rate in exchange for greater patient volume.
Using your vision insurance for a discount reduces the amount you have to finance.
Medicaid recipients are unlikely to get free LASIK services even though this publically funded program sometimes acts as a health and vision insurance. Financing may be your only alternative if you insist on a surgical solution.
- The Medicaid health insurance component might cover medically necessary surgery, as noted above
- The Medicaid vision insurance component will follow the least expensive alternative rule, which means they may support eyeglasses or contacts but not surgery
- Finding a list of vision centers that accept Medicaid is unlikely to make a meaningful difference because the program will not pay for laser eye surgery
Government grants are an unlikely source of free money to pay for LASIK eye surgery. Federal agencies award grants to institutions (universities, state agencies, non-profit organizations) rather than individuals.
Begin at the Grants.gov website to identify relevant opportunities – if any. Hopefully, a local agency or clinic will receive the funding. But do not hold your breath.
However, the IRS offers three programs that could provide hefty discounts.
A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is the first IRS-enabled government grant for LASIK. An FSA provides interest-free financing that saves money in up to three ways.
- Your employers cannot charge interest on the use of their money for 52 weeks
- Pre-tax payroll contributions reduce your income subject to three possible levies
- Federal income
- State income
- FICA taxes
A Health Savings Account (HSA) is the second IRS-enabled government grant for LASIK. An HSA comes attached to a High Deductible Health Insurance Plan.
You can use your HSA to pay for unreimbursed dental, medical, and vision expenses using pre-tax payroll money, which also reduces your income subject to federal, state, and FICA taxes.
Schedule A tax deductions are the third IRS-enabled government grant for LASIK. However, you must meet two separate thresholds for this strategy to work.
- Your unreimbursed medical and dental expenses exceed 7.5% of your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)
- The total of all itemized deductions must exceed the standard deduction for your unreimbursed expenses to yield any tax savings
Laser Eye Surgery Payment Plans
Lasik eye surgery payment plans are nothing more than a financing option with a different name. A third party provides cash upfront, and the patient returns the money in monthly installments with interest.
Third-Party Payment Plans
Third-party LASIK payment plans are the most common form of this renamed financing option. Typically, the vision center is not lending money themselves because they are experts in correcting eyesight.
Instead, most providers refer the function to a third-party finance company such as CareCredit or Healthcare Finance Direct, specializing in the underwriting, funding, billing, and collections components.
Third-party financing is an excellent alternative. Just remember that you limit yourself to one company by waiting until the last minute. The one company might deny your application.
In-House Payment Plans
In-house LASIK payment plans are scarce and barely qualify as financing. For example, you may have encountered providers such as LASIKPlus that touts their guaranteed Premier Pay option for patients who do not qualify for CareCredit.
The guaranteed comes with a possible $1,000 deposit per eye requirement – at least one-third of the total cost. Many patients with bad credit do not have that kind of money available to pay upfront.