Does Medicaid Cover Lasik?

In this article...
  • Wondering if Medicaid covers LASIK? In most cases, LASIK patients pay for the surgery, but under certain circumstances, Medicaid may cover the procedure.

LASIK is generally considered an elective procedure and, therefore, isn’t covered by most health insurance plans, including Medicaid. However, in certain situations, vision correction surgery may be considered medically necessary. Under these circumstances, Medicaid may cover LASIK.  

What Is LASIK? 

LASIK, which stands for laser in-situ keratomileusis, is the most commonly performed vision correction surgery and most popular elective surgery in the United States. Since the procedure was invented in the 1990s, about 10 million Americans have undergone it to correct their vision.    

In eyes with normal vision, the cornea, or the eye’s outermost lens, bends light onto the retina at the back of the eye. For those who are nearsighted, farsighted or have astigmatism, the light is bent incorrectly, which causes blurriness.  

During LASIK surgery, a special type of cutting laser is used to change the shape of the tissue of the cornea so that it bends the light correctly. The entire procedure takes about 15 minutes, and about 99% of patients get 20/40 vision afterward. 

LASIK is considered to be generally safe, and while about 5% of patients experience mild problems such as dry eye afterward, only 3% of patients report that they regret getting the surgery. 

Does Medicaid Cover LASIK?

For most people, LASIK is an attractive option because it eliminates the need for glasses or contacts. However, because nonsurgical options are available for achieving clear vision, it usually isn’t covered by Medicaid.  

Medicaid may cover LASIK on a case-by-case basis if the procedure is medically necessary. Instances in which coverage may be available include: 

  • Extremely blurry vision that isn’t sufficiently corrected with glasses or contacts 
  • When blurry vision is the result of a traumatic injury 
  • When a previous vision correction surgical procedure caused the blurry vision 
  • If a physical limitation prevents the individual from wearing contacts or glasses 

Medicaid is a state-run program, and laws and coverage vary depending on where you live. If your eye doctor recommends LASIK for a medically necessary reason and Medicaid agrees to cover the procedure, you must get the surgery in a facility and by a health care provider that accepts Medicaid.   

How Much Does LASIK Cost Without Insurance? 

Medicaid typically doesn’t cover LASIK, but because of the convenience and potential cost savings this procedure provides, many people opt to pay out of pocket.  

The cost of the surgery has a lot of variables, including where you live, your surgeon’s level of experience, the quality of the equipment and the specific eye condition you’re correcting. On average, LASIK costs $2,199 per eye in the United States. To make corrective surgery attainable to more people, many vision care providers have flexible payment options.  

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