Does Medicaid Cover LASIK Eye Surgery?

Team Health Cages

will medicaid pay for lasik eye surgery


LASIK eye surgery by Medicaid and the reasons behind its classification as an elective procedure. While Medicaid typically does not cover LASIK due to its perception as a cosmetic rather than medically necessary procedure, there are exceptions under specific circumstances, such as refractive problems resulting from injury or previous surgery. 

We also explored the types of eye surgeries that Medicaid commonly covers, including cataract surgery, glaucoma surgery, retinal detachment surgery, and others. Additionally, we discussed the process for seeking Medicaid coverage for LASIK and what happens during the surgery itself. Overall, while Medicaid coverage for LASIK may vary, understanding the options available and consulting with healthcare providers can help individuals make informed decisions about their eye care needs.

The following topics will be discussed in this blog:

Will LASIK eye surgery be covered by Medicaid?

Medicaid usually doesn’t pay for LASIK eye surgery because it’s not seen as necessary for health reasons. LASIK is more about improving how your eyes look, not fixing a medical problem. But it’s good to check with your Medicaid plan to see if they might cover it in special cases. If not, you might need to find other ways to pay for LASIK, like using different insurance or paying out of pocket.

Why is Lasik surgery not covered by it?

Many insurance companies, including Medicaid, often classify LASIK surgery as an elective or cosmetic procedure. This categorization stems from the fact that LASIK primarily enhances quality of life rather than addressing life-threatening conditions or significantly impairing daily functioning, which are the criteria for coverage under most insurance plans.

LASIK, short for Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis, is a form of refractive surgery designed to correct common vision problems like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism by reshaping the cornea. While these issues can indeed be bothersome, they’re often manageable through less invasive means such as glasses or contact lenses. Consequently, LASIK is often seen as a convenience rather than a necessity, leading insurance providers like Medicaid to exclude it from their coverage.

The classification of LASIK as elective sparks ongoing discussions, considering the crucial role vision plays in daily life. Yet, unless there’s a change in how such procedures are categorized or a shift in insurance policies, patients will likely need to seek alternative financing avenues for LASIK.

Always consult your specific insurance provider or local Medicaid office to understand your coverage, as there may be exceptions or regional variations based on individual circumstances and policies. If you’re contemplating LASIK, your optometrist or ophthalmologist can offer valuable guidance and suggest available financing options.

When will LASIK eye surgery be covered by Medicaid?

Medicaid may cover LASIK surgery for refractive issues under specific circumstances:

  1. When a refractive problem results from an injury.
  2. If the surgery is necessary to correct a refractive problem caused by prior surgery.
  3. When the refractive issue is severe and requires correction.
  4. If the patient cannot wear glasses or contacts due to physical limitations.

Which kinds of eye operations are covered by Medicaid?

Medicaid eligibility and coverage for eye surgeries vary by state and individual circumstances. Here’s a rundown of the types of eye surgeries Medicaid might cover

Cataract Surgery

Medicaid typically covers cataract surgery, as it’s crucial for preserving vision. This procedure involves removing the cloudy lens and implanting a clear artificial lens to restore sight.

Glaucoma Surgery

Medicaid often covers treatments for glaucoma, including surgeries aimed at reducing intraocular pressure, a key factor in preventing vision loss associated with the condition.

Retinal Detachment Surgery

Medicaid commonly covers surgery for retinal detachment, as it’s medically necessary for preventing permanent vision loss by reattaching the retina to the eye’s back.

Strabismus Surgery

Medicaid may cover surgery to correct strabismus, particularly if it hampers normal vision development in children or significantly affects visual function.

Diabetic Retinopathy Treatment

Given its potential to cause blindness if untreated, Medicaid often covers treatments for diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes affecting the eyes.

Corneal Transplant

Medicaid may cover corneal transplant surgeries, which involve replacing damaged corneal tissue with healthy tissue from a donor, depending on the specific circumstances and state policies.

Eyelid Surgery for Ptosis

If ptosis, or drooping eyelids, affects vision, Medicaid may cover the necessary corrective surgery to alleviate the impairment.

How Can a LASIK Procedure Be Covered by Medicaid?

To seek Medicaid coverage for your LASIK procedure:

  1. Consult with your eye care provider to assess if LASIK is medically necessary for addressing a vision impairment.
  2. Your provider initiates the process by submitting a prior authorization request to your state’s Medicaid program.
  3. If the request is initially denied, you can appeal the decision by providing additional supporting documentation or collaborating closely with your provider.
  4. Review the specific LASIK coverage policies outlined by your state’s Medicaid program.
  5. If Medicaid doesn’t cover LASIK, consider exploring alternative avenues such as private insurance or financing options provided by LASIK providers.

What happens during LASIK surgery?

  • The surgeon begins by creating a thin flap in the cornea using a precise surgical instrument or laser.
  • This flap is then lifted to expose the underlying corneal tissue.
  • A specialized laser is employed to reshape the cornea by removing minute amounts of tissue, correcting refractive errors.
  • Finally, the flap is delicately repositioned, enabling natural healing to take place.
  • Typically, the procedure is brief and painless, with patients experiencing improved vision shortly afterward.


In conclusion, while Medicaid coverage for LASIK surgery may vary depending on individual circumstances and state policies, there are steps you can take to explore coverage options. By working closely with your eye care provider, submitting prior authorization requests, and appealing decisions if necessary, you can navigate the process effectively. Additionally, understanding Medicaid’s specific policies regarding LASIK coverage and considering alternative financing options can help you make informed decisions about your eye care needs.

During LASIK surgery, the surgeon performs precise steps to reshape the cornea and correct refractive errors. This quick and painless procedure often leads to improved vision shortly after surgery, providing patients with a valuable solution to their vision impairment.


Q1. Can LASIK eye surgery be paid for by VA Medicaid?

A1. If your VA doctor says LASIK is needed for your health, it can probably be covered. But if it’s seen as optional, it’s harder to get covered. Most insurance plans consider LASIK cosmetic.

Q2. Does Texas Medicaid cover LASIK?

A2. Medicare and Medicaid won’t pay for LASIK unless it’s medically necessary. Sometimes, though, they partner with another company for vision benefits. This company might suggest specific eye doctors for a discount.

Q3. How long does LASIK last?

A3. Yes, LASIK is a permanent fix. The results stick around for your whole life. However, some people might need a second surgery, usually many years later.

Q4. Is LASIK worth it?

A4. Most people who get LASIK have had great vision for many years. You can do things like sports or swimming without glasses or contacts.

Q5. Does LASIK fix eyes forever?

A5. Lasik’s effects are long-lasting, but they can fade over time. For most people, the results last a lifetime. However, about 10-12% of patients might need another surgery because their eyes change.

See the world clearly. Get expert eye health tips on our blog: