How Much Does PRK cost?
The question of how much you should pay for PRK is one that most people wrestle with. The most immediate question might be whether or not you have enough money to afford the cost of PRK. However, it’s not just as simple as asking at your consultation “How much does PRK cost?” Unfortunately, there are other complications to this seemingly straightforward question:
- What’s a fair price? How much does PRK cost for the typical person?
- How do you balance between that tempting offer of budget PRK or LASIK and the one that’s three times the price but that you always see ads for.
- Are there any hidden costs that you should be budgeting for?
- Why am I being quoted a price that’s more than the offer the surgeon advertised?
How much does PRK cost on average?
We have all seen ads for LASIK or PRK surgery like:
“SPECIAL OFFER – Our limited special means you pay only $1000 for the most advanced laser vision correction. Call now!”
Or maybe when you searched online you came across some ads going as low as $300! Given that the average cost of LASIK or PRK is considerably higher, you should certainly be sceptical of such offers. However, that doesn’t mean that you should reject them outright and just simply trust the clinic that is asking you for $6000 to perform the surgery! Like any deal, you should do your research.
The “How much does PRK cost” Checklist
The cost of PRK is similar (and in many cases the identical to) the cost LASIK eye surgery. Costs for customized PRK surgery (customized indicates a more precise type of surgery) range from $3500 to $6500 for both eyes. LASIK and PRK cost has been slightly trending downwards in the last few years. It remains to be seen if this trend will continue or if it’s a sign of an industry trying to survive in a struggling economy. So, before you hand over your deposit or sign any agreement to have LASIK or PRK surgery, make sure you’ve followed all the tips in our “How much does PRK cost” checklist:
1. Check out online reviews
Most surgeries will be listed on one or all of the major review sites so do your homework on them. Some of the sites that frequently contain LASIK and PRK surgery reviews are Google, Yelp, Yahoo Local, and Real Self (the latter focuses on cosmetic surgery reviews and seem to have a lot of PRK and LASIK review information). Keep in mind that, as with all review sites, always factor in the nubmer of people submitting reviews and how relevant the reviewer’s concerns or comments are to the surgery you are considering. If a doctor is or isn’t very friendly that may or not be important to you when you are considering eye surgery. However, it will be worth paying a little extra to have the confidence that you are being operated on by a surgeon who is well reviewed by others who had a great PRK experience.
2. Ask how many surgeries they have performed?
While we all have to start somewhere, you may or may not be the type of person who wants to be this surgery or doctor’s first LASIK or PRK surgery. So don’t be afraid to ask how many surgeries have been performed by the surgery and by your doctor in particular. You will usually pay more for a surgeon who has performed a large number of surgeries.
3. Make sure there are no hidden costs
PRK is a long process and involves more than a single trip on surgery day. Usually you will have at least 3 visits prior to surgery and another 5 to 6 in the year following it. So to make sure that there are no hidden costs, ask if the price for surgery includes:
- The cost of surgery even if you have a strong prescription or astigmatism. Some surgeries charge additional for PRK because of the additional postopertive care.
- All of your pre and postoperative visits.
- Any enhancements you need during the first year. (Some surgeries include enhancements for life in the price of their surgery.)
- Both eyes! Yes I know.. that one is a bit strange… but those ads you see advertising PRK for ridiculously low prices are probably per eye, for perfectly shaped eyes with a low prescription, excludes pre-op consultations, post-op care, and can only be done on certain days of the week.
You should also ask the following questions so that you can fully understand how much PRK costs:
- Is the deposit refundable if you change your mind or your life situation changes and you can’t go ahead with PRK surgery.
- What will I have to pay for if I have post-operative complications from PRK?
- How much will my prescriptions for the PRK surgery cost? The cost of your prescriptions are generally not included in the PRK cost you are included. The cost of the prescriptions ranges – in my cost I was surprised to find out that they were just under $500! Also, factor in the cost of ongoing eye drops. In the 5 months post surgery I spent approximately $450 on eye wetting drops.
4. Do they have a payment plan?
Many surgeries have a financing option to help you spread the cost of surgery over time. As with all financing options read the fine print and make certain you know how much you’ll pay back in total by the end of the plan (including any fees that may be included). Most surgeries should be offering a 0% interest rate (or at least a very low interest rate) with no fees.
5. Does your health insurance cover the cost of PRK?
Most healt insurance plans do not cover the cost of PRK or LASIK. The reason for this is that they consider PRK and LASIK surgery to be an elective procedure. However, some do subsidise a percentage (generally small) of the cost of the surgery. Other health insurance companies have negotiated a fixed price with a network of providers. As above, do your research on the specific surgery and don’t trust that it’s a no-brainer if they have fixed a price with your insurance company.
6. Get it in writing
Be sure get all the costs and a details of what is or isn’t included in writing. 24 hours after the surgery is not the time you want to be arguing over whether post operative care was included or not.
7. Do you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Spending Account (HSA)?
Laser vision correction is an eligible expense according to IRS guidelines. So if you have one, you can use the funds from your FSA or HSA to pay for your PRK or LASIK surgery. While HSA spending rules are relatively flexible in that you don’t have to spend the money by a certain date, FSAs are more complicated. Most FSA plans require that you spend the money you allocate to for that year by a certain time of the year. If you don’t, you loose the money you contributed. So if you’re intending to put money into an FSA for LASIK or PRK surgery, then plan carefully. Always check current IRS guidelines or talk your company’s benifits or human resources manager.
8. Check out if LASIK or PRK costs are an applicable tax deduction for you
Depending on whether you itemize your taxes or not, you may be able to get a tax deduction for eye surgery. So make sure you talk to your accountant to see if you’re eligible.