As with most healthcare needs, cataract surgery without insurance can get pricey. The surgery is a corrective vision surgery that’s usually covered by health insurance excluding add-ons, but how much does cataract surgery cost without insurance?
The answer is varied depending on a variety of factors, which we’ll explain below. These factors include how experienced your surgeon is, how up-to-date the technology used to perform your surgery is, your location, and more.
It’s frustrating that these factors play a part at all, but we’re here to provide some transparency on the cost of cataract surgery.
What Does Cataract Surgery Cost Without Insurance?
Cataract surgery is vital for those affected by cataracts to continue leading a normal life. Cataracts cause clouding of the eye lens which is normally clear. This results in one’s vision becoming blurred or cloudy and impacts normal day-to-day living.
The surgery is safe and non-invasive. It is performed with a laser and involves your cloudy lens being replaced with a new, clear lens. You can generally go home on the same day as your procedure, as it’s an outpatient surgery.
So, what is the cost of cataract surgery without insurance? You can consider the rough cost estimate to be around $2,300 per eye so around $4,600 in total. This excludes any additional costs such as follow-up visits and postoperative care needed.
The cost can also vary depending on the type of intraocular lens used. This is the lens used to replace your cloudy lens. Let’s go over what the options are here. But remember, although you might be involved in the choosing of your lens, you should listen to the advice and guidance of the medical professional taking you through the process.
Types Of Intraocular Lenses And Their Costs
The most common type of lens used in cataract surgeries is the Monofocal IOL. This lens can be used for close, medium-range, or distance vision, and doesn’t really impact your seeing abilities very much.
This means it doesn’t improve your vision further than removing the cloudy layer on your natural eye lens. If you have any sight issues related to the shape of your cornea, for example, you’d still need glasses to see after the procedure.
The next option is the Toric lens, which is commonly used for patients who have pre-existing astigmatism. This is a condition that causes sight issues due to an irregular curvature of the eye.
The cause of astigmatism is the curve on the outside of the eye not matching the curve of the lens on the inside of the eye. Light refracts incorrectly, causing blurry vision. People with astigmatism often see streaks of light instead of one solid body of light.
The symptoms associated with astigmatism include blurry vision, constant headaches, difficulty seeing at night, eye discomfort, and squinting often.
These symptoms occur for two reasons. Firstly, your eyes are uncomfortable and you find yourself squinting because you’re struggling with getting objects into focus due to your misshapen eye curves.
Secondly, you’re experiencing symptoms like headaches because your eyes are working harder than they should to do their job.
If you identify with this, your doctor may recommend the Toric lens to replace your cloud lens during your cataract surgery.
The toric lens allows doctors to correct both astigmatism and cataracts at the same time and is usually covered by insurance if you have it.
Another option in terms of lenses is the multifocal IOL. These also offer doctors the ability to fix both cataracts and vision impairment – this time the vision impairment is the inability to switch between distance vision and near focus.
These lenses help you switch between the two if you have an issue with seeing both far and near, or just have an issue with one of the two. They work by giving you a new clear lens and eliminating the need for glasses.
Your last option is the Crystalens IOL, which uses Crystalens technology. It’s an accommodating lens, meaning it adjusts to the individual’s eye muscles to assist with the specific visual needs of that individual.
It allows for a broad range of distances to be seen without the need for glasses.
What Do These Options Cost?
Naturally, the lens that does the least is the cheapest option. The monofocal IOL lens will set you back up to $4,000. The big range in this cost is because of other factors, which we’ll discuss in the next section. But on average, you can expect to pay around $2,500 per lens. You’ll need to double this if you’re having surgery done on both of your eyes.
The Toric lens can cost up to $3,000. Again, this depends on factors such as your location and how well-versed your surgeon is in the surgery.
The multifocal lens is the most expensive option. The average cost of this lens is about $3,000 per eye, bringing the total cost of the lenses alone to $6,000. This is 24% higher than the average cost of the simplest lens, the monofocal lens.
The last option, the Crystalens, is surprisingly a bit cheaper than the multifocal lens. For this lens, you’ll pay around $2,300 on average per eye.
5 Factors That Affect The Cost Of Cataract Surgery
As mentioned earlier, there are a variety of factors that affect the cost of your cataract surgery. This is in addition to the cost of the lens, which just depends on the type of lens you and your doctor decide is the best option for your specific case.
Your Geographic Location
Your location has an impact on the cost of your overall healthcare, and cataract surgery is not exempt from this.
Generally speaking, healthcare costs less in rural areas and more in urban areas. Clinics that offer cataract surgeries in Los Angeles, for example, cost a lot more than clinics offering the same procedures in Detroit or Phoenix.
If you’re able to travel and it makes your surgery more affordable, consider having the surgery done in a small town if you currently live in a big city. Of course, you’d need to factor in travel costs, but this might make the surgery more affordable for you.
The Technology Used To Perform Your Surgery
There are a few different types of technology available for your doctor to perform your cataract surgery with, and the type they choose can impact the cost of your surgery.
Doctors generally factor in the upfront cost of their technology into their pricing. This is why a more expensive piece of technology being used for your surgery will likely mean a higher procedure cost for you.
Cataract surgery can be performed either with a blade or a laser. Surgeries performed with a laser will be more expensive than surgeries performed with a blade because their upfront cost is so much higher for the doctor.
Standard cataract surgery makes use of the blade. This is covered by insurance if you have it. Some insurances also cover cataract surgery done with a laser, but this is not commonly the case.
If you’re not covered by insurance, surgery performed with a blade will cost you around $2,000 dollars per eye, and surgery performed with a laser will be around $3,000 per eye. These are average costs that can go up or down slightly depending on the other factors discussed here.
How Experienced Your Surgeon Is
A more experienced surgeon can charge more than an inexperienced surgeon. This is related to the perceived value of their service.
You want to feel that you’re in safe hands, so you may be willing to pay a little bit more for a more experienced surgeon. After all, your eyes aren’t a part of your body you’re willing to compromise, as seeing is such an important part of your life.
How Severe Your Cataracts Are
Another factor that can impact the cost of your surgery is how severe your cataracts are.
The severity of your cataracts determines the type of lens that needs to be used. And as we pointed out earlier, some lens options are more expensive than others. So if you need multifocal lenses, your overall surgery cost will increase.
If you have insurance, your surgery will only be covered if your cataracts are impairing your vision at a certain percentage. This can be frustrating, but if you’re uninsured, you’ll need to pay out-of-pocket for the whole procedure regardless.
Your Postoperative Care Needs
Your postoperative care also influences the cost of your cataract surgery. It’s not something you can skip if you need extra care, and it’s important to support your healing journey to make sure the surgery is a success.
Most clinics will include basic postoperative care in the cost of the surgery. The length of this can differ between clinics, so it’s important to check in with your doctor before your surgery to determine whether you’ll need additional postoperative care.
The postoperative care for cataract surgery includes a supervised period of rest after the surgery in the clinic, and 60 to 90 days of eye drops once you’ve gone home. This is to make sure your eyes don’t get infected and are kept clean while they heal.
If you need any additional postoperative care, this will likely be an extra cost.
What Does Cataract Surgery Cost With Insurance?
When you’re covered by insurance, the cost of cataract surgery is reduced from the range of $4000 – $6000, to between $1600 and $2600. It’s still not cheap, but it’s much more affordable when you’ve got cover in place.
Your insurance requires the procedure to be medically necessary to offer coverage, though. The mere presence of cataracts doesn’t make the procedure medically necessary. It doesn’t cause any harm outside of difficulty to see.
Your doctor will perform an assessment which will be shared with your insurance carrier. This will indicate among other things, the degree to which your vision is impaired by cataracts. If your vision is severely impaired, your carrier will consider the procedure medically necessary.
The exact amount your insurance covers depends on the plan you’re on. More comprehensive and expensive plans naturally cover more of the procedure, and cheaper plans might not cover as much.
Some insurance carriers will cover all of the associated costs. Others may cover only 20%, meaning you would likely have an out-of-pocket bill of around $2000.
Cataract surgery is very expensive if you’re uninsured. And if you’re uninsured, it’s likely because you feel you can’t afford the monthly payment associated with insurance.
The reality is, the payments are far less than you’ll have to pay for unplanned health crises. Cataracts are only one example, but there is an endless list of things that can go wrong with your body.
Can you afford not to be insured? We understand that having little to no income is the driving force behind the large group of uninsured Americans. So we set out to solve that problem by connecting you with the most affordable insurance plans available in the country.
At Enhancehealth.com, we can recommend plans for as low as $0 per month and take your overall financial situation into account when making suggestions on available plans for you.