Does Medicaid Pay for LASIK?

In the eyes of Medicaid, Lasik surgery, like many cosmetic procedures, falls in the "elective surgery" category.

So you're among the growing number of people with less-than-perfect vision considering Lasik eye surgery. But, at $1,350 per eye, according to 2010 data from the Council for Refractive Surgery Quality Assurance's USAEye's site, the procedure doesn't come cheap. Don't count on insurance, including Medicaid, to pay for it, according to the University of Iowa.



As of February 2011, Medicaid insurance won't pay for the procedure because it's considered an elective surgery, according to the University of Iowa's Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. This is the same reason Medicare--government insurance for seniors--and other private insurance plans won't cover the procedure.

Medicaid Vision Basics

Though Medicaid won't cover Lasik surgery, it does cover costs related to your eye health and treatment. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, at minimum, vision benefits cover the diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions. Though the program is administered by states, there may be differences between states with regard to how often you can, say, get a pair of glasses or have a routine exam.


Specific Benefits

Generally speaking, Medicaid will pay for a routine exam and a pair of glasses (with standard frames) or contacts every two years, according to health care consulting organization Quality Plan Administrators Inc. If your glasses are lost, stolen or broken to the point where they can't be fixed, you are also eligible for replacements every six months. These benefits apply if you are 21 and over; if you are under 21, you are eligible for glasses or contacts and exams annually (replacement schedules remain the same).


Help with Lasik

If you're still set on having Lasik vision correction, most providers can set up payment plans or financing options with you. Your procedure could be financed for as little as one year to four years with no interest. As Lasik continues to become more popular, major health plans have jumped on board to offer deep discounts for the procedure. Medicaid is changing all the time, so there could come a time when procedures considered "elective" are no longer perceived as such.