February 7th, 2007 by admin
We understand that we can possibly get a sale on a product (a toaster, for example) at certain times of the year, or that we may be able to buy the same toaster at a Target store instead of at Bloomingdales and pay a lot less. You may be able to buy the same exact toaster for half price, because it’s a product.
Lasik is not a product. It is a service that is performed differently by each surgeon in every center in the world. There are different quality levels in this service depending on the surgeon. So how do you choose who to go to? How do you decide how much you should pay? You have the same problem when you are searching for a plumber or an attorney, or for any other service. You want the best but to either pay the least or not to overpay.
There are various factors that may influence your decision. Many decisions are probably made based on word of mouth. As more Lasik is being performed, more people can give you feedback on their experience with a particular center/doctor.
Most surgeons now offer very attractive financing (18 months interest-free), so all pricing issues seem to disappear when you consider your decision.
In the early days of Lasik, a lot of negative stories were posted online by under-achievers who profited from these negative postings.. These postings have diminished in part because of surgeons like Dr. Dello Russo (New York ) and Dr. Boothe (Texas) who took these deceptive and untruthful sites to the courtroom in order to remove them from search engines. Some have just disappeared naturally since the postings became old and people no longer believe websites that ramble on and on 100 % about complications that were supposed to have happened in the late 90’s. We all know happy lasik patients.
So how should you make your decision? Should you consider price as a primary factor? Some do, thinking think that Lasik is a product and that all doctors offer the same quality – so why overpay? Not unless you think that you are buying that toaster from that $199 per eye discount center that bases its advertisements on price alone. You may even know people who have paid only $2,700 to $3,000 for Lasik and are happy. Of course a percentage of these people will be successful with their surgery. That is not surprising, but it does not guarantee you safety. But everyone will be happy either.
You take a certain risk choosing any surgeon from any center. The risk sis minimized when the surgery is performed well by an experienced surgeon and his experienced staff using the safest lasers.
If you don’t use price as your only decision-making factor, you understand that it is less likely to have a problem in the hands of the more experienced (and somewhat pricier) surgeons. It would be ridiculous to predict that everyone goes blind if they don’t pay enough. By avoiding the discounters you are simply improving your chances of a safe result with better vision.
These are all generalizations about the whole field of Lasik. Prices for good Lasik surgery will vary regionally, but let’s explore the costs to the surgeon performing Lasik and how much he needs to charge you for the best Lasik he can do. The higher fees don’t simply depend on a surgeon’s ego. The pricier surgeon will have pricier costs that permit him to perform his quality lasik that you are paying for.
SURGEON /CENTER COSTS
- There are fixed costs such as overhead plus the higher costs of very highly trained laser technicians.
- Laser costs – two lasers are used, each will have the following costs to the surgeon:
1) $450,000 per machine plus about $200,000-$250,000 in lease financing.
2) Service costs of $3,000 to $6,500 per month.
3) Royalty fees of $150 per eye treated. That is correct. The surgeon must pay the laser company about $150 for each eye that he treats on the laser that he purchased from the laser company. Unbelievable but true.
Bladeless ( Intralase ) or all-laser Lasik requires a second laser as well. So you must double all of the laser expenses above.
It shortly becomes obvious that to treat each eye costs an awful lot of money for the surgeon. No truly experienced surgeon can perform quality Lasik for $199 when it costs him at least a $1,000 per eye. Nobody has ever paid $ 199 for lasik. When you see or hear of prices such as $199 per eye, you should know that you will actually pay a lot more and often the total cost of the procedure will be similar to costs for quality surgeons who don’t advertise discounted too-good-to-be-true prices.
Low balling is not new in sales. It is simply the bait-and-switch marketing tool so often used to get you in the door. But should it be used to get prospective Lasik patients in the door to simply up-charge so it will cost $3,500 to $5,000 anyway? One has to wonder about the ethics of a doctor/center using low-balling sales pitches. Can’t they simply count on word of mouth or advertise their qualifications, such as the doctor’s experience or the technology used? Experience and technology are the most relevant factors to consider since you are not buying that toaster but a very skilled medical/surgical performance that will affect your eyesight for the rest of your life.
One problem is that low-balling confuses the prospective Lasik patient. You may hear about $199 and then run into a person who had surgery with the bait and switchers center ( paid $ 3,500 to $ 4,500 ) and seems to see okay, which is a like testimonial for the low price center, so you feel that you shouldn’t be overpaying for your Lasik.
The best advice is to consider all aspects but especially the experience not of the center but of the surgeon who will be actually performing your surgery. If you do choose a pricier surgeon, remember that the difference in cost between low cost and pricey surgery is often $500 or so, but you will save that by not buying glasses within a year or two.
You can research the internet. There are about 17 million pages about Lasik on Google. Dr. Dello Russo himself has over 300,000 pages on Google. These numbers do not reflect the amount of advertising but the number of news articles and other sources of information. Regarding the net, some websites you should check out are www.lasiktruth.org and www.fda.gov/lasik.