How Much Does Cataract Surgery Cost?

Last Updated on December 17, 2023
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Over time, the clear lens in your eye can become cloudy and fogged over, causing blurry vision, trouble seeing at night, and faded color perception. These vision changes result from eye tissue clumps called cataracts. Cataracts frequently hit seniors but can also be caused by diabetes, smoking, and past operations. If untreated, cataracts eventually trigger total blindness.

The good news? Cataract removal surgery offers a safe, effective fix restoring clear sight. During the outpatient procedure, the eye doctor swaps your natural lens for a synthetic replacement called an intraocular lens implant. Read on to learn typical procedure expenses with and without insurance.

Key Takeaways:

  • Cataract Surgery Effectively Restores Vision – The standard treatment for cataracts involves a minimally invasive procedure to remove the clouded lens causing blurred vision and replace it with a clear artificial lens implant. Over 90% of patients enjoy restored clarity of sight after routine cataract surgery.
  • Out-Of-Pocket Cataract Surgery Costs Range From $100 – $6,000 – Patients with Medicare pay the least for cataract removal, with average out-of-pocket fees of just $100 to $500. Those with private insurance face more cost sharing but reduced rates, while self-pay patients spend the most at $3,000 – $6,000 without coverage.
  • Post-Surgery Care is Crucial – Follow all doctor’s orders for medicated eye drops, protective wear, and follow-up visits after cataract removal to minimize swelling, lower infection change, and catch any potential complications early. Complete post-op care improves outcomes.

Step-By-Step Cataract Surgery Procedure Overview

Ophthalmologists perform cataract removal one eye at a time, scheduling each roughly a month apart. Before starting, you’ll receive numbing and dilating drops to minimize discomfort and open your pupil wide for easier access. Sedatives may also relax you, though you’ll remain awake.

Next, your surgeon utilizes a special microscope and shining light to view inside the eye, making a tiny cut to take out the cloudy natural lens. The specific removal technique varies based on the surgical approach. After extracting the cataract, the new intraocular lens gets inserted in its place. From start to finish, the surgery lasts around 10 minutes.

How Much Does Cataract Surgery Cost with Medicare?

According to recent Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data, charges billed to Medicare for cataract removal average:

  • $1,587 in outpatient surgical centers
  • $2,627 in hospital outpatient settings

You might also like our articles about the cost of LASIK eye surgery, Strabismus surgery, or detached retina surgery.

Those totals represent facility and physician payments combined. Naturally, your final expense depends on the facility, location, surgical choices, and more. Still, most Medicare beneficiaries undergo cataract surgery for under $500 out-of-pocket.

Who Pays if You Don’t Have Insurance?

Without coverage, you must pay the entire cataract surgery cost yourself. Expect to spend:

  • Basic Cataract Removal: $3,000-$6,000 per eye
  • Advanced Laser Cataract Surgery: $4,000-$6,000 per eye

Rates vary based on aspects like surgical setting, specific procedure complexity, follow-up care needs, and your city. Those without insurance always pay higher rates, so make sure you confirm precise estimates beforehand.

Better Vision Guide notes that tandard cataract surgery in the United States may cost $3,500 to $7,000 per eye. According to them, the average out-of-pocket expense of cataract surgery is $4,131 per eye, based on the most recent estimates (updated August 2023).

Medical News Today reports that on average, a person may spend between $1,808 and $2,866 per eye for cataract surgery. However, the actual cost can vary based on who performs the surgery, the location of the hospital where the surgery takes place, health insurance, and other available options.

According to GoodRx, the average cost of cataract surgery ranges from about $1,600 to about $2,600, according to Medicare claims.

UCF Health says that the total cost of cataract treatment for a patient who doesn’t have an insurance provider can range from $3,000 to $5,000 per eye for standard cataract surgery and $4,000 to $6,000 per eye for laser-assisted cataract surgery or procedures using advanced lens.

Southwest Eye Institute has an article reporting that the cost of cataract surgery in Las Vegas ranges from $2,500 to $4,500 per eye, depending on the type of lens implant and other factors.

Factors Affecting Cataract Surgery Cost

From location variables to lens selections, multiple elements will influence your final including:

  • Surgery Setting – Hospitals and surgery centers charge higher facility fees than outpatient centers.
  • Removal Technique – Simple procedures cost less than laser or advanced cataract removal.
  • Intraocular Lens Type – Basic monofocal lenses enabling single-distance vision hit lower price points than multifocal lenses also allowing near vision.
  • Surgeon Specialization – Doctors with advanced tech training often charge more.
  • Follow-Up Care Needs – Complications like cloudy scar tissue over lenses raise additional procedure expenses down the line.

Does Insurance Cover Cataract Removal Costs?

Fortunately, most health plans label cataract surgeries as medically necessary, making them covered offerings. Specifically:

  • Medicare Part B covers 80% of approved expenses for seniors after paying your deductible.
  • Medicaid pays in full in some states including Arizona, Hawaii, Louisiana, and more if you qualify based on strict income and disability guidelines.
  • Private health insurance also foots surgery bills for members, typically after reaching your annual deductible amount.

In all cases, insurers only share costs once vision impairment reaches levels affecting function and quality of life. Yearly vision screenings help catch cataracts early.

What’s the Cheapest Cataract Removal Cost with Insurance?

When covered by insurance, your out-of-pocket cost responsibility equals any uncovered coinsurance, copays, or deductibles as outlined under your insurance policy. For example:

  1. Medicare Coverage – If you’re covered by Medicare, 20% of approved costs after paying a $233 deductible
  2. Medicaid – Minimal or $0 copays with state programs covering this surgery
  3. Private Insurance Coverage – Fixed copay amount (e.g. $50) plus coinsurance after reaching your annual deductible (e.g. $1000)

Confirm your plan’s cost-sharing specifics beforehand to avoid surprises. Generics can make prescribed eyedrops much cheaper too.

Follow-Up Care After Cataract Surgery

Cataract Eye SurgeryPost-op appointments start the very next day, continuing periodically until your eye totally heals – usually in one month. Along with examining your progress, eye doctors often prescribe anti-inflammatory and antibiotic drops to manage swelling, pain, and infection risks. They may also suggest wearing protective glasses and sunglasses outdoors.

Additionally, secondary cataracts causing blurry vision can form around artificial lenses later on for some patients. Fortunately, this quick, low-risk laser treatment resolves the issue.

Does Cataract Removal Last a Lifetime?

Cataract removal aims to fix vision for good. The synthetic replacement lens implants should keep you seeing clearly indefinitely.

In rare cases, implants require replacement if unexpected cloudiness or glare issues emerge over time. Still, you can typically consider cataract surgery a permanent, lifelong fix.

Cataract Surgery Costs Shouldn’t Stop

If diagnosed with cataracts, don’t let surgery costs deter you from seeking treatment – the vast majority of insurance plans cover expenses in full or large part after paying your yearly deductible and coinsurance.

Those lacking any coverage can access financing options through providers. Either way, cataract removal not only slashes vision loss risks but typically costs thousands less than a lifetime struggling with progressively fading eyesight and related assistance expenses. Know your options and prices to take control of vision care costs.

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