Eye surgery, like most surgery, can be a costly undertaking. Doctor and hospital fees along with associated medications, follow up appointments, tests and even getting to and from appointments can all add up. Laser eye surgery and cataract surgery are some of the most common surgical procedures performed in Australia and can accumulate significant out-of-pocket costs for patients.
Let’s face it, most people are likely to value their sight above most other things in life. Still, it pays to be prudent to ensure the improvement in your vision does not leave you with a lifetime of debt. If you need a cashflow boost to proceed with your eye surgery, the following may help when funding medical procedures.
Knowing your out-of-pocket costs
The most confusing aspect of surgery is getting clear on the costs. More importantly, the out-of-pocket costs you will be responsible for after Medicare and any private health insurance coverage has been deducted. It’s best not to assume you are covered but instead get everything in writing stating what your out-of-pocket costs will be. The Australian Medical Association define this as informed financial consent.
In addition to medical costs, you may want to add a buffer for any additional personal costs like travel & accommodation to attend surgery and appointments. You’ll then have the most accurate dollar figure you will need to make up personally. The next step is how to fund it. Let’s look at some options:
Please remember, when considering financial decisions, it is always wise to seek professional financial advice relevant to your individual circumstances.
Dip into savings
If you have been diligent enough to have a stockpile of savings, eye surgery may be one of the more valuable things you can spend your hard-earned money on. Also consider the day-to-day costs of glasses and contact lenses you might save by having surgery.
Use a Credit Card
Depending on your credit limit, a credit card could be used to pay for eye surgery to overcome a short-term cash flow issue. Interest rates on credit cards are often a lot higher than other forms of credit. So, unless you can pay this off quickly within the interest free period it might not be the ideal method to reduce finance costs.
Utilise equity in your home
If you are in front on your home loan repayments and can redraw, this could be a cheaper and easier source of credit with home loan interest rates currently at record lows. Even if you cannot easily redraw, a home loan refinance can help access the equity you have in the market value of your home.
Apply for a secured or unsecured personal loan
A personal loan is a common mechanism to access funds you don’t have available with interest rates generally a little lower than credit cards. Personal Loans come in two varieties, secured and unsecured. A secured loan can have a lower interest rate than an unsecured loan as you offer up an asset, like a vehicle, as security to support your loan. Loan repayment periods vary greatly and so do the interest rates, so do your research to find the best deal. Finder is a useful comparison site on both secured and unsecured personal loans in Australia.
Apply for Medical Finance
Medical finance is simply a customised version of a personal loan. In some cases, the money must be used for the medical procedure and may even go direct to the medical clinic. But in many cases, it is a normal personal loan arrangement which may be secured or unsecured. It is wise to compare medical loans alongside personal loans in terms of interest rates and also the associated fees. NOW Finance is a popular medical finance provider in Australia.
Request early access to super
While the government made this an easier option during the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, this may be a little harder to obtain, particularly for elective procedures. Legitimate options however do exist for certain medical procedures and conditions. Find out more on what is possible on the ATO website. You also should get financial advice as removing funds from superannuation early could severely impact your long-term retirement savings.
No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS)
The NSW Government No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) is a lending scheme for people on low incomes to enable safe and affordable access to credit. Loan amounts are limited to $1,500 but it may help to pay for out-of-pocket expenses on medical services. Eligibility criteria apply such as having an income must be below $45,000 p.a. Find out more at Service NSW.
Begin a Savings Plan
While most minds turn to credit options, particularly when you need cash quickly. If you are considering elective eye surgery and your doctor has advised immediate treatment is not essential, you may decide to begin a savings plan to pay for a future surgery. Term Deposits for example hold your funds for a defined period and pay higher interest rates than a standard savings account.
When faced with the costs of eye surgery, be it to restore or improve your vision, the most important first step is to understand your out-of-pocket costs. Then, by considering all the available funding sources, you can determine the most effective solution. As always, getting professional financial advice is highly recommended.
Envision Eye Centre takes pride in being fully transparent about fees associated with our surgical procedures and we can help you understand out-of-pocket costs to provide the confidence of having informed financial consent as it relates to your procedure. While we typically refer patients to NOW Finance we encourage patients to research a finance option that makes the most sense to their personal circumstances.