Saturday, January 3, 2009

LASIK Costs

Over the past several years, for those considering LASIK to minimize or eliminate their dependence on eyeglasses or contacts, the major barriers to electing to have LASIK were cost and fear. The psychological barrier of fear has gradually declined for most people ans the cumulative number of very satisfied LASIK patients continues to grow. While we are all feeling the effects of the economy as we begin 2009, the cost of LASIK is likely to remian a major obstacle. There are several things to consider when evaluating LASIK costs.

First, you should not choose a LASIK surgeon, LASIK practice or LASIK center based on cost. LASIK is surgery-not an appliance! While advertising and promotion of LASIK would lead one to believe that LASIK is a commodity, it is no more a commodity than brain surgery-and I doubt whether patients shop for the best deal when needing brain surgery. Choosing a LASIK surgeon should begin with some careful investigation to gather information-perhaps by searching the internet to compile a list of local resources in your area. From this list, ask friends, family and coworkers if they are familar with the surgeons on your list. Then select a few of those who seem to have the endorsement of your trusted circle and phone their offices-see how your are treated on the phone-AND schedule an appointmemt for a consultation. It is reasonable to visit the offices of 2-3 LASIK surgeons to find the one where feel comfortable not only with the skill and expertise of the surgeon, but with the staff and environment.

Second, the cost of LASIK should cover all of the care and visits that you will need. As a patient, be wary of "a la carte" pricing as this puts you in an awkward position of selecting a "package" for covering your care when you have absolutely no idea how many visits are appropriate and how often you will need to be seen. This is surgery-each person heals differently and you want the best care and results without being told "call us if you have a problem". Unfortunately this happens when patients choose "low cost LASIK" packages that short change their care.

Third....once you have chosen the surgeon and the practice to perform your LASIK surgery, carefully review the payment options. Many banks or finance companies are only "too happy" to see you sign up for "zero % " payment plans. However f you do not carefully read the agreement, you will find that they have huge penalties if you have NOT fully paid off the balance within the defined term-i.e. 12 or 24 months. Ask the practice you are selecting to show you all of the different payment plans. Many are very flexible and allow you to select the term you wish to pay over and have quite low interest-WITHOUT the huge penalty. By selecting the payment plan that is best for YOU and not best for the bank...you can afford LASIK comfortably.

Last....contrary to what you may think...the cost of LASIK is not falling. It has been relatively stable for quite some time. There have been many "discount centers" that have promoted low cost LASIK and have since ceased to function, leaving the patient without ongoing continuity of care-NOT GOOD. You want to be sure that you have access to care in the future-so choose a LASIK surgreon, LASIK practice or LASIK center that has been in your area for a while and is likley to be in your area for many years to come. Corporate LASIK centers that are operated as business entities rather than private practices where the physician is the owner, are under huge economic pressure. Many have closed their doors...many more will.

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