Cataract surgery costs
The average cataract surgery cost is $2,500 per eye, or significantly less with Medicare and private health insurance.
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If you're uninsured, you can choose to have the procedure bulk billed at a public hospital or pay an average price of $2,500 per eye to have the procedure done at a private hospital. But if you have health insurance, you're looking at next to no out of pocket expenses — you'll also get to choose your own doctor and the comfort of your own room.
Comparison of clinics that offer cataract surgery
What are cataracts?
Cataracts are cloudy patches that form on the lens of the eye. A cataract blocks light from passing to the back of the eye, making it more difficult for a person to see clearly. While it is possible to have a cataract in one eye, they typically develop in both eyes.
Cataracts usually form due to ageing. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, more than 31% of Australians over 55 and more than 70% of Australians over 80 have developed cataracts. They are more common in men than women. Risk factors include age, sun exposure, diabetes and cigarette smoking.
What is cataract surgery?
Along with laser eye surgery, cataract surgery is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures in Australia.
Cataract surgery is used to treat cataracts that have advanced and are affecting a person's eyesight and quality of life. The surgery involves removing the clouded eye lens and replacing it with an artificial lens. Depending on the surgeon and your individual circumstances, the procedure may be performed on both eyes at the same time or on one eye at a time with a few weeks for recovery in between procedures.
Quick facts about cataract surgery
Procedure time: 10 to 30 minutes per eye.
Anaesthetic type: Local anaesthesia.
Recovery time: Vision typically improves within a few days but full recovery takes 4 to 6 weeks.
Prices for cataract surgery vary based on the hospital, insurance cover, surgeon, lenses and individual circumstances. Your ophthalmologist will recommend the best procedure and lenses for your eyes depending on your health, needs and lifestyle. Some premium lenses can also be used to correct common refractive errors including short-sightedness, long-sightedness and astigmatism, though they are more expensive than standard lenses.
|Cover type||Out-of-pocket costs||Waiting period||Can I choose my specialist?|
|Medicare||Most public patients will pay nothing for cataract surgery, provided they use Medicare-approved lenses. If you want premium lenses, you will have to pay for the cost of the lenses.||Cataract surgery covered by Medicare has a general waiting time of 6 to 18 months.||No.|
|Private hospital cover||You may have out-of-pocket costs depending on your level of cover, your excess, the hospital, the lens you choose and the amount your surgeon charges.||The waiting period will depend on the surgeon’s availability. In many cases, the procedure can be performed more or less immediately.||Yes.|
|Private hospital without cover||The average cost for patients without insurance at private hospitals is around $2,500 per eye.||The waiting period will depend on the surgeon’s availability. In many cases, the procedure can be performed more or less immediately.||Yes.|
Cost without insurance
If you don’t have insurance, you can choose to have your cataract surgery at a public or private hospital.
Cost with insurance
Every health insurance policy is different, and not all policies cover cataract surgery.
Health Insurance and Eye Surgery
Check out our guide to policies that do cover eye surgery for more information.
- Policies that cover major eye surgery generally start at around $138.95 per month.
Make sure to check what is included in your policy before scheduling any procedures. If you do not already have insurance and want to take out a policy before your cataract surgery, keep in mind that a waiting period will likely apply.
- Waiting periods typically range from a few months to one year.
Pensioners may be eligible for discounted surgery at private hospitals, depending on the hospital. Medicare will pay for a portion of the surgeon and anaesthetist fee. Seniors on the pension without insurance typically pay less than $2,000 per eye.
Find out the cost of laser eye surgery
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