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Four Clever Ways To Get Free Or Discounted Lasik Eye Surgery

Lasik can be expensive, but it doesn't have to break the bank. For me, it has been worth every penny I paid -- but I definitely wish I had looked deeper into my financial options before taking the plunge.
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I've always been a super active person--I love to hike, snowboard, swim, boat, and pretty much anything else that involves fresh air and sunshine. If I am outside, I am happy.

Unfortunately, I also have terrible vision...and irregularly shaped corneas, making contacts a no-go for me. Did I mention I have sensitive sinuses and get headaches from the pressure of heavy glasses, leaving me with pretty slim options for what types of glasses I can wear? When you are as active as I am, this leaves you with two choices: 1. not wearing glasses and being blind, or 2. Strapping your expensive glasses to your head with some ugly contraption and hoping they don't fly off of your face into white water rapids or off the side of a cliff.

It's no surprise then, that about a year ago I chose to get Lasik eye surgery. Despite having some major fears, it has proven time and time again to be one of the best investments I've ever made. While it can be expensive -- the national average cost of Lasik is $4,518 - I have never thought twice about the cost.

Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to afford the hefty price tag of this elective surgery--most vision insurance plans don't cover it yet. If you want to ditch your glasses, but are having trouble figuring out how to pay, consider these 4 tricks for getting free or discounted Lasik.

Speak with Your Health Insurance Provider
Most major insurance companies consider Lasik to be an elective procedure--therefore they won't cover it unless you meet a certain set of criteria and have what they deem to be a legitimate medical reason for needing Lasik.

If you don't meet these rare criteria, that doesn't necessarily mean your insurance can't help you pay for your Lasik surgery. Your plan likely has supplemental eye insurance coverage that can help you receive vision correction surgery at a discount with a pre-approved provider, or will partially cover the procedure at a clinic of your choice.

Save with a Flex Spending or Health Savings Account
Depending on the type of health insurance you have, providers usually offer either Flex Spending or Health Savings account options. If you know you'd like to get Lasik, these can be a great way to save tax-free money toward your surgery. Some plans are even set up so you receive funds from your employer, so make sure to ask about this.

Set up a monthly deduction from your paycheck that goes into the account, and plan to save enough for a sizeable down-payment. Then, find a clinic that offers payment plans. With a decent deposit, you can usually get financed for a no-interest monthly payment that is affordable.

Claim Groupon and Other Local Deals, With Caution
Your eyesight is not something that you want to bargain shop with, so there are varying opinions on whether or not it's advisable to look for Lasik deals on Groupon and similar sites. While I am not a doctor, I would agree that it is best to exercise extreme caution here! That being said, some reputable Lasik clinics do use Groupon as a way to get their name out there and bring in new customers. If you see a tempting Lasik deal on Groupon, do your research and look into the reviews, accreditation, and reputation of the clinic offering the discount.

Ask plenty of questions and get a consultation before purchasing your Groupon deal. Most clinics offer a free consultation, and you want to be sure you are a viable candidate for the surgery before buying an expensive, sometimes non-refundable voucher. This will also give you a chance to check out the facilities, meet the staff, and possibly speak to other patients who have undergone surgery at the clinic, since many do follow-ups at the same location.

Enter a Legitimate Contest
If your insurance provider doesn't offer vision insurance, you don't have access to a flex spending or health savings account, and you feel uncomfortable searching for a bargain on GroupOn, it's time to get truly creative.

Some reputable Lasik centers host yearly or quarterly contests, awarding winners free or drastically discounted Lasik surgery. Contests like this recent one from Hoopes Vision, often ask contestants to submit a video or essay detailing why they want Lasik and how it might change their life for the better. Search Facebook and Twitter regularly for contests, or write your local Lasik clinics and ask when their next contest might be coming up--they may be impressed with your motivation and be more likely to consider your entry.

Lasik can be expensive, but it doesn't have to break the bank. For me, it has been worth every penny I paid -- but I definitely wish I had looked deeper into my financial options before taking the plunge. If you want to get Lasik or any other corrective eye surgery that your insurance company won't cover, make sure you explore these four ways to get your surgery for free or at a hefty discount.