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Cost Calculation for Medical Procedure

Should Pricing for Cataract Surgery be More Transparent?

If you asked 10 patients to rank the order of importance of the following items (as they relate to selecting a surgeon for an upcoming surgery), you might not get the exact same order from any of them:

  • Distance / Location
  • Patient Feedback
  • Availability of Appointments times
  • Surgeon’s Skills
  • Cost of Procedure 

Fortunately, the first two or three can be determined with a quick Google search.  Surgeon’s skills can be nearly impossible for a prospective patient to evaluate, so maybe they rely on the recommendation of a friend or someone they trust.  Only Cost remains.  It is great to find the best surgeon with convenient appointment times that is close to your home, but if you can’t afford the procedure, what good is that?

With this blog post in mind, we did a quick Google search for “LASIK near me” which pulled up page after page of nearby refractive surgeons offering LASIK.  Among the mix of national brands and local practices were advertisements that, in nearly all cases, include varying degrees of promotions and discounts.  One of the top links took us right to Groupon where we could get one or both eyes done at a 65% discount from retail!  

Opening the first of the links we came across for a Refractive Surgeon lets us see that they are typically charging $2,499 per eye and that they offer multiple payment and financing options.  Another website made it easy to find that the cost per eye was between $1,095 and $2,100.  Not all practice websites made it so obvious, but it wasn’t difficult to get a good understanding of what a ballpark cost might be for this type of procedure.

Why is it that a similar Google search for “cataract surgery near me” returns the same number of results – but nothing resembling a price tag – even from the same clinic websites?

The obvious answer, it would seem, is that one is an entirely elective procedure while the other is, typically, a medical procedure that can be covered by insurance.  Does that ignore the fact that there are many elective upgrades available to cataract patients that come with their own out-of-pocket expenses?  

There is a broad range of premium lens technology, laser packages, and other options available to a patient for cataract surgery, depending on what a surgeon might offer.  Our team of Navigators can quickly and easily outline these packages for patients during an educational phone call, so it intrigues us that patients are not given this information on the web prior to making their appointment.  

When we’ve posed this question to practices in the past, the most common reason is that they prefer not to have their patients shop around for the least expensive procedure.  However, out of the thousands of patients we’ve educated, we have yet to come across patients who cancel their appointment to search for a cheaper alternative for cataract surgery.  

Our team provides every patient the information they need before they step foot in the practice, including:

  • Information about their diagnosis
  • Details about their upcoming Cataract Evaluation
  • An overview of Cataract Surgery
  • Pricing and Financing of all available packages offered by their surgeon

Patients appreciate this type of transparency.  Cost is an important part of making an informed decision.  The patient feedback we receive is that they prefer to have additional time to budget for the cost of these options.  For our clients, this has not led to patients looking elsewhere for care, but to patients making the decision to invest in premium procedures at a higher rate. 

We can’t say whether or not it is a good idea to post the costs of your premium cataract procedures on your website.  We can confidently say that our clients have seen the benefit of educating their patients on cost as early as possible – and so have their patients.

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