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By now it should be understood that LASIK is not a product like a computer, plasma TV, or MP-3 player. LASIK is a medical procedure that is more akin to a service. Unlike the products mentioned, LASIK fees increase over time, not decrease. In providing a service in the form of a surgical procedure, there are a host of factors that play a role in the fee for the procedure.

Generally, LASIK fees can be categorized as premium, middle, and low. As a general rule, the lower the fee, the less surgeon-patient interaction there is. The reason is that lower fees mean that more patients need to be treated in order to generate the same level of income as fewer patients at a higher fee. At the lower fee range, it is common that the patient will sign up for surgery without meeting the surgeon – patients typically meet the surgeon just prior to the surgery itself. It’s the equivalent of going in for elective gallbladder surgery, but never meeting your surgeon until “you’re on the table”. This is not common practice in other areas of medicine.

There are other factors that can account for differences in fees even if you meet the surgeon at every visit before and after surgery. The more experience of the surgeon, typically the higher the fee. In other words, the greater the expertise, the higher the fee. As with any profession, some surgeons are more skilled than others which includes not only surgical expertise, but also diagnostic expertise as well since LASIK is not always the best procedure for everyone. Some patients may be better suited for other procedures and some patients should not have surgery at all. An expert surgeon will be able to tell you this critical information. Should a problem arise with or after surgery, an expert surgeon is likely able to manage it. All of these factors tend to culminate into the reputation of the surgeon. An Internet seach of the surgeon’s last name may show you information or accomplishments about the surgeon.

The quality of the staff is another factor with LASIK fees. Just like highly-qualified surgeons, expert surgical staff and clinical technicians along with other staff necessitate higher salaries. Surgeons who employ less experienced staff have in turn lower staff salaries. Surgical technicians assist the surgeon in sugery and clean, sterilize, prepare, and maintain all equipment in surgery room as well as maintain the room itself. Clinical technicians perform similar functions as part of the preoperative and postoperative examinations. As you can see, the staff have a very important role in the LASIK procedure.

The equipment is another cost factor. The top-end lasers used for LASIK can cost upwards of $400,000 to $500,000. A 6-10 year old model can easily be obtained for $50,000. A facility with the top-end laser needs to cover the not only the laser cost, but other equipment needed for the procedure, all of which have different grades of quality unto themselves: flapmaker, surgical room (air filtration system or not? humidity-controlled room or not?), diagnostic equipment, other surgical equipment, etc.

With this understanding of why LASIK fees vary, if you hear a lower LASIK fee, you should ask yourself, “What is being left out of the process then?”

A very popular option for those who desire premium LASIK, but think it may not be within reach is to use outside patient financing. Most offices can provide you with patient financing for LASIK which has become very popular among patients nowadays since monthly payments are typically $100-$200 a month. Payments start after the procedure is performed. This option has made premium LASIK affordable to many patients.