The cost difference between a premium LASIK center and a LASIK discounter should be considered fairly insignificant when averaged over a patient’s lifetime. Price oriented advertisements should be viewed as a warning sign to proceed with caution and here’s why.
Common Complaints About Discount LASIK Centers
Bait and switch pricing tactics
Not saying no to poor LASIK candidates
Not being examined or seen by surgeon prior to surgery
Extra charges for follow-up care, enhancements, updated technology or treatment for dry eyes
Surgeon turnover and even center closures leaving patients “abandoned”
Patients turned away from enhancements
Poor handling of post-surgical complications or problems
LASIK surgery charges vary greatly and are oftentimes advertised at what seems “too good to be true” pricing. LASIK discounters frequently advertise discount prices with small print restrictions. Those prices offered in the ad only apply to a limited group of patients who qualify for the “lowest advertised price.” These patients typically have a very low prescription with no astigmatism. Most patients ultimately pay substantially more, thus being attracted to a “bait and switch” approach often used in sales.
In terms of physician involvement, the patient should also know that LASIK discounters utilize their staff in an assembly line approach, relying on the lowest provider to conduct preoperative consultations, testing, and tentative clearance for surgery. Many times at a corporate LASIK discounter, you may not meet your surgeon until five minutes prior to having your LASIK procedure performed. Will you really have a chance to meet and get to know your surgeon in this time frame? Will your surgeon really have an opportunity to understand what your needs and expectations are? When other staff members perform pre and post operative care, this may relegate the LASIK surgeon to a position of an over qualified technician.
The corporate LASIK discounter’s national experience is irrelevant compared to the experience of the surgeon who will be performing your procedure. Corporate LASIK discounters may claim to have vast experience, but this is typically across the nation among all their surgeons. The doctor you may see, however, may not have the results and experience implied by the corporate LASIK discounter’s promotions.
While LASIK is very low risk, it is not considered to be no risk surgery. If you experience a complication, will your original surgeon be there to identify and treat it? Find out if you will be seen and examined by your surgeon post operatively or will you be assigned to a less qualified staff member or Optometrist who was not there at the time of your surgery. Depending on the problem, this may have an impact on your results.
You also want to know exactly what the price includes. Are enhancements included? How long is the follow up? What are some of the add-on costs not described in the promotional ad? What kind of “customer service” should you expect? Will you be satisfied with the service provided at a LASIK “mill”?