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Does Insurance Cover Laser Eye Surgery?

Let’s cut to the chase. Private health insurance does not cover the cost of laser eye surgery. Only medical conditions that did not exist before you joined your insurance policy will count – sadly, improving your eye sight won’t cut it.

The good news is there are a few exceptions to this rule. In 5% of cases, patients will be able to receive part-coverage of laser eye surgery costs through their health insurer. Overall, though, these come in the form of optical expenses which will barely cover the price of the initial consultation.

So, what are your options? Which health insurers cover laser eye surgery? And what are the alternatives for finding more affordable eye treatment if your insurance policy is a dead end? Read on for our complete guide to receiving laser eye surgery on insurance.

☝ Or, if you’d like to find out how much correcting your vision would cost you personally, just use our simple tool here to find a top-rated laser eye surgery clinic near you.

In this article, you will learn:

  1. Is Laser Eye Surgery Covered by Insurance?
  2. Who Is Eligible?
  3. How Much Does Laser Eye Surgery Cost with Insurance?
  4. Which Health Insurance Covers Laser Eye Surgery?
  5. WDoes Bupa Cover Laser Eye Surgery?
  6. Laser Eye Surgery Medical Insurance FAQs
  7. How Can I Get a Free Tailored Quote?

1. Is Laser Eye Surgery Covered by Insurance?

In general no, laser eye surgery is not covered by health insurance for treating long-sightedness or short-sightedness, regardless of your policy level. That’s because private health insurers consider going glasses free a cosmetic (and optional) – rather than a medical – procedure, which puts the costs firmly in the patient’s court.

What’s more, health plans as a rule do not cover any treatment for pre-existing conditions. Since most people considering laser vision correction have experienced less than 20/20 vision for some time, there’s a good chance this started before joining their insurance provider.

Of course, there may be exceptions, so it is always a good idea to talk to your health insurer. You’ll also need to check your payment options with the clinic you are considering treatment with. If part-financing is available, the insurance company will need to partner with your chosen eye clinic already.

2. Who Is Eligible for Receiving Laser Eye Surgery on their Health Insurance?

Health insurance for eye laser surgery is available to treat the rare instances when an ophthalmologist deems the visual impairment medically necessary. Such examples are few and far between, but include instances where a medical condition or accident has directly impacted your vision.

These are the main examples where health insurance will cover refractive laser surgery:

  • Eye issues that result from an injury
  • Imperfections from a prior surgery
  • Severe sight loss (depending on the standards set by the individual insurance provider)
  • Visual impairment, when the patient suffers from a disability (such as Parkinson’s) which prevents him or her from wearing glasses or contact lenses

As with all types of laser eye surgery and lens replacement surgery, not everyone will be eligible for treatment. An eye specialist will be able to check your visual health, and recommend the options suitable for you. In general, though, you’ll need to tick these boxes:

  • Aged over 21 years old
  • No vision change of less than 0.5 dioptres in the past three years
  • Not pregnant
  • Not suffering from arthritis
  • No signs of age-related long-sightedness

3. How Much Does Laser Eye Surgery Cost with Insurance?

Always check your health insurance plan for the full details on how much cashback you will be eligible for. In general, laser eye surgery will cost only £50 to £250 less with private health insurance cover. Given that the full cost of treatment can run between £1,000 and £3,000, for many people this cashback may not provide too much relief.

What’s covered in insurance plans? In addition, make sure you find out exactly which parts of the laser eye treatment your policy covers, as your protection probably won’t be airtight. You’ll want to check who is responsible for the initial consultations, as well as aftercare, including any check-ups following surgery, and repeat treatment that may be necessary.

Of course, your health insurance cover will vary depending on the type of plan you’re on. Always check the terms of your policy, and look out for the level of outpatient cover you have.

Is finding the upfront costs for laser refractive surgery or refractive lens surgery keeping you up? Bear in mind that most medical insurers will expect you to pay for the surgery, and only reimburse you at a later date. Financing plans are there to help if that’s the case, but they’re not available in conjunction with insurance plans.

4. Which Health Insurance Covers Laser Eye Surgery?

Whilst no private health insurer will pay for the full cost of your laser refractive or refractive lens surgery, some providers will offer some cashback on optical expenses, which may include a consultation with an eye specialist, or some cases of cataract surgery.

If you are one of the many people in the UK who receive medical insurance through your employer, it’s worth noting that many corporate eye care insurance policies specifically exclude laser eye surgery from their terms.

These 10 popular health insurance providers may part-fund your laser eye surgery:

  1. Allianz Worldwide Healthcare
  2. AXA PPP
  3. Bupa
  4. Cigna International
  5. ICICI Lombard Health Insurance
  6. Medical & General
  7. PMI Health Group
  8. SAGA Health Insurance
  9. Standard Life Healthcare
  10. Vitality

5. Does Bupa Cover Laser Eye Surgery?

Depending on the insurance plan you have, Bupa may fund part of your laser eye surgery. Bupa’s Health Cash Plan and Health Covers offer between £50 and £250 to cover some of your laser eye surgery costs, such as the initial consultation. To qualify, your eye condition must not form part of a pre-existing condition, and an ophthalmologist needs to deem you eligible.

These Bupa policies cover part of the costs of laser eye surgery:

  • Bupa Health Cash Plan – £50 to £150
  • Bupa Health Cover 10 – £125 to £250
  • Bupa Health Cover 20 – £125 to £250
  • Bupa Comprehensive Cover – only cataract surgery at an Optical Express clinic
  • Bupa Superior Cover – if there is no pre-extisting condition

These Bupa policies exclude laser eye surgery cover:

  • Bupa Select
  • Bupa Foundations
  • Bupa Corporate Cover

Overall, Bupa’s health insurance policies will not help with the costs of laser eye or lens replacement surgery. Under most policies, optical expenses come with a cashback limit of between £50 and £250, which is a digit off the average cost of laser eye surgery in the UK.

Patients with Bupa plans can always put this cover towards the cost of the initial consultation (usually between £150 and £250), but at many popular clinics such as Optical Express and Optegra, this assessment is free anyway.

In addition, not all treatments will be available for Bupa cover. For example, eye hospitals such as Moorfields Private use femtosecond laser technology to treat cataracts, and Bupa has not been covering this advanced type of laser treatment since 2016.

6. Laser Eye Surgery Medical Insurance FAQs

How much does laser eye surgery cost without insurance?

Since most people will not receive refractive eye treatment on their medical insurance policy, it’s good to understand what prices we face. The cost of laser eye surgery without insurance is on average between £1,195 and £2,875 per eye for standard LASIK treatment (the most common type).

Lens replacement surgery costs – including cataract surgery costs or implantable contact lens costs – tend to be slightly higher, since the artificial lenses alone can be pricey. All in, these costs will be closer to between £1,995 and £6,500 per eye.

Luckily, there are ways to cash in on cheaper laser eye surgery, so you don’t need to fork out your savings all at once. Many clinics offer laser eye surgery finance, which let you spread the cost of surgery over one to three years, paying anything from £30 a month, interest free.

Will my travel insurance cover laser eye surgery?

In an attempt to save on treatment costs, some people seek laser eye surgery abroad. However, standard travel insurance will not offer medical cover for laser eye surgery (nor any elective treatment) – it’s only for accidents and medical emergencies.

And since the success rates of eye surgery are high in the UK, according to the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCO), for many people it’s not worth taking the risk.

Can I get travel insurance after laser eye surgery? Always check your insurance policy, but in most cases, laser eye surgery will neither impact nor raise the cost of your travel insurance.

Refractive eye surgery is a straightforward procedure under local anaesthetic, where you can return home the same day. Many clinics will allow you to fly after 24 hours, as long as you follow the recovery guidelines set by your ophthalmologist.

Is laser eye surgery covered by the NHS?

Just like private health insurers, the NHS will not cover the cost of laser eye surgery in 95% of cases. That’s because the General Medical Council (GMC) considers eye surgery for vision correction an elective procedure that does not justify public funding (their words, not ours).

However, there are a few (albeit rare) exceptions. These are similar to those allowed by medical insurance policies, and include eye issues that risk blindness if left untreated, and special conditions such as epilepsy that would make wearing glasses risky. After all, such conditions would make the surgery a medical emergency.

That said, the Telegraph found waiting times for surgery on the NHS can last up to 15 months, which can help those of us who aren’t eligible feel better. If you have further questions, you may like to arrange to see your eye doctor to talk more.

7. How Can I Get a Free Tailored Quote?

So, for those of us who are lucky enough to have private medical insurance, laser eye surgery most likely will not be available. However, many clinics offer financing options that help you spread the costs of surgery if you’d like to avoid paying everything upfront.

Compare clinics: See if there are any top-rated laser eye surgery clinics near you, and find out the right treatment for you.

Want a tailored quote? The cost of your laser eye or lens replacement surgery will depend on the clinic you choose, the experience of the surgeon, and the treatment you go for. That means the only way to get an accurate quote is to go to a free consultation, have free eye tests (worth £800), and talk through your options with an eye expert.

Our simple tool helps thousands of readers a day get ready for a glasses-free life:

  1. Find the top clinic in seconds: Answer three questions to be matched withget matches to the leading eye clinic in your area
  2. Check you’re eligible in minutes: Receive a quick call to check you can get surgery
  3. Book a free consultation: Talk to an expert at a clinic you can trust, and get a personalised quote

To find a top-rated clinic near you, our simple tool will help you get a quote from a trusted eye surgeon.

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