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What Is The Cost Of Cataract Surgery

by Lyndon Langley
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What Is The Cost Of Cataract Surgery

What Is The Cost Of Cataract Surgery

A new study from the American Academy of Ophthalmology estimates that in 2012, Americans aged 45 and older had an estimated 285 million people with some type of vision impairment or blindness. That’s about one-third of all adults who have ever lived in this country.

Of those, over 80 percent were deemed legally blind due to uncorrected refractive error (such as nearsightedness) and cataracts. In fact, according to the same report, cataracts are the leading cause for legal blindness. What is more, nearly half of these patients go completely undiagnosed until they develop severe symptoms. And even then, many don’t see a doctor until their condition has become so bad, it causes major problems at work, school, and home.

The good news? There is hope! According to the AOA, 90 percent of cases of cataracts can be prevented through proper diet, exercise, smoking cessation and education. So if you’re not already taking care of yourself by exercising regularly and eating right, now would be a great time to start.
If you do have cataracts, however, there are several options available to correct your vision. Your ophthalmologist may recommend laser treatment, which uses light energy to break down proteins within the lens of your eye. This helps them reabsorb the proteins into the clear fluid between them, making the cloudy lenses much clearer. Laser treatment also works best when used after cataracts have formed, rather than when they are removed surgically.

Another option is known as phakic intraocular lens implantation (or “IOL”). It involves using an artificial lens to hold onto part of your natural lens. These lenses can be placed into both your eyes during a single surgical procedure, giving you sharper vision without having to wear glasses afterwards. They come in different sizes and shapes, including ones designed specifically for bifocal or contact lens wearers.

And finally, you could opt for an artificial lens called an epikeratophakia lens. Epikeratophakia implants are made from donated human tissue and are created to match the shape of your cornea exactly to allow for no distortion whatsoever.

But what does all that mean to you personally? How much will it cost?

According to statistics cited in the aforementioned AAO study, cataract surgeries typically cost around $2,700 to $3,400 per eye before insurance. Once insurance kicks in, the price range changes dramatically. On average though, you can plan on your cataract surgery costing around $3,500 to $3,900 per eye before insurance. With insurance, the cost will vary slightly depending on your provider, but generally, the out of pocket costs are nominal.

For example, Medicare requires cataract patients to pay nothing up front — no copayments, coinsurance, deductibles, etc. — and will reimburse you back 100 percent once your bill reaches $6,000 or higher. However, private insurers are often less generous. For instance, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of New York only reimburses its members 95 percent of the total costs once the patient’s deductible is met.

So how much should you budget? Well, since cataract surgery is such a common procedure, most hospitals post their prices online. To find the exact amount you’ll need to cover, just search for “[your hospital name] cataract surgery,” along with your zip code. You’ll usually receive information regarding preadmission testing, anesthesia, surgeon fees, facility fees, pharmacy charges, and any other extra services you might require.

Once you know the numbers, you can decide whether you want to self-pay or get help paying for your surgery. If you elect to go the traditional route, you can ask your employer to make payments directly to the hospital. Or you can look into getting a personal loan or applying for health savings account contributions. Both offer tax benefits that can save you money in the long run.

Finally, while insurance coverage varies greatly among providers, keep in mind that many insurances don’t provide reimbursement for medical procedures like cataract removal. If yours doesn’t, you may want to consider another provider, as some are better able to deal with expensive claims than others.
Learn more about cataract surgery and related topics by following the links on the next page.
Cataracts affect both men and women, although females tend to experience them earlier because they don’t produce enough estrogen to protect against cataracts forming. As a result, women are more prone to suffer from the disease. Also, African Americans and Native Americans appear to be more susceptible to developing cataracts, possibly because of genetic factors. Finally, children under the age of 18 are also more likely to contract cataracts later in life.

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1 comment

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