Paying for LASIK with Your FSA
By Gordon Wong, OD on July 30, 2014
Given the benefits of LASIK eye surgery and its relatively simple procedure, many patients find the cost of treatment well worth it. This is especially true when also factoring in the money saved from no longer needing new glasses or contact lenses, not to mention the convenience of naturally clear vision. Still, it can be difficult for some patients to afford the cost of LASIK up front. At our San Diego eye care center, we understand that everyone’s financial situation is different, and as such, we want to help our patients find a payment or financing option that meets their needs.
One payment option that may be initially overlooked by patients is a flexible spending account (FSA). If you or a close relative are traditionally employed, there is a good chance that the employer offers an FSA, which can be used for a variety of medical or general care expenses. Take a moment to learn how your FSA can benefit you in conjunction with LASIK surgery.
What Is Flexible Spending?
A flexible spending account is a small account set up between you and your employer at the start of each fiscal year. If you so choose, you can set aside a portion of each paycheck for this account, to be used at a later date. The primary benefit to an FSA is that the money you set aside is untaxed, meaning you get to keep more money from your paycheck. However, the stipulation is that this money must be spent by the end of the year, otherwise it will be re-collected by the employer. Furthermore, FSAs are usually reserved for expenses related to healthcare or dependent care.
It certainly takes some planning in advance, but if used wisely, an FSA can save you a good deal of money on taxes while also paying for elective procedures that you might not otherwise be able to afford.
FSAs and LASIK Surgery
Because LASIK is considered an elective procedure, it is not usually covered by insurance plans. As a result, patients are left to pay for the procedure themselves. Credit companies and banks will often provide loans and financing options, but with the right foresight, such options may not even be necessary.
If you are planning on receiving LASIK surgery and already have an FSA, there is virtually no downside to building up your account in preparation. The more money you store in your account, the more you will save from tax exemption, and all of this money can be used toward the cost of LASIK. In a single year, some patients may be able to save enough to cover most of their procedure’s expenses. If LASIK is only used for a single eye, the cost may be covered entirely.
How Much Money Can You Save?
A few years ago, there was no legal limit on how much an employee could put into his or her FSA. As of 2013, however, FSAs are now capped at $2,500. To put this into perspective, the average cost of LASIK at our office is $1,600 per eye. If you plan to receive LASIK treatment in both eyes, a full FSA account will pay for 78 percent of your surgery, leaving you with a balance that is much more manageable, especially if you choose to finance the rest over a period of time.
Also, remember that by using your FSA, you are spending money that was not subject to taxes. As a result, you are able to put more of your paycheck to good use. In lower tax brackets, this can give patients up to $700 more from their salary, while higher tax brackets can expect savings of over $1,100.
Explore Your Financial Options
To better plan for your LASIK surgery, visit our office for a full consultation. You can gain a more accurate estimate regarding your candidacy for treatment and its expenses. Contact us to schedule a visit or ask about any of our treatment options.
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Dr. Wong and his staff have proven to be the best eye doctor that I have ever visited. He is extremely thorough and up-to-date professionally. He gives you plenty of time. I never feel rushed.Kathrine Holladay