OHIP and LASIK: What’s the Deal?

The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) is the government-run health insurance plan for the province of Ontario. OHIP covers medically necessary health care services like visits to your family doctor and specialists. OHIP is paid through taxes, and you need an Ontario Health Card to qualify. If you don’t have a Health Card, you might be able to get free health card from a Community Health Center.

OHIP and eye care – what’s covered?

In terms of eye care, OHIP covers children and seniors for an annual eye exam and any minor assessments. If you’re between 20 and 64 years of age, you must have a specific medical condition that affects your eyes to qualify for eye exams and care under OHIP. Specific conditions include: 

  • diabetes mellitus
  • glaucoma
  • cataract
  • retinal disease
  • amblyopia
  • visual field defects
  • corneal disease
  • strabismus
  • recurrent uveitis
  • optic pathway disease

OHIP and eye care – what’s not covered?

Unfortunately, OHIP doesn’t cover a lot of other eye care services. These services are generally elective ones that are advantageous to the patient but not urgent. Some of these services include: 

  • eyeglasses, contacts, low vision aids, eye coordination exercises 
  • contact lens progress checks
  • second opinions
  • eye exams required by potential employers
  • laser refractive surgery (LASIK) 

The fact that these eye care services are not covered poses a problem. Private insurance can vary by plan, and oftentimes only covers a small portion of eye care products and services. Eye care can be expensive, and the longer you live with a vision problem, the more expensive it gets. The good news is that programs exist to offer financial help, like the Ontario Disability Support Program. The program covers routine eye exams, prescription glasses, and the cost of repairs. You just have to apply by filling out a Vision Care benefit authorization form. 

The problem of expensive eye care compounds itself when you consider the amount of money you invest each year in glasses and/or contact lenses. Your vision problems inevitably get worse over the years, requiring new glasses/contacts, forking out more money on expensive frames. Rinse, repeat. You might want to consider LASIK to climb out of this money pit. 

How can I afford LASIK if it’s not covered by OHIP?

We’ve established that unfortunately, OHIP does not cover LASIK surgery. And the price to pay is hefty, but luckily there are options to ease the burden. Financing options are now commonplace, and some are even interest-free. With flexible financing options, you can spread out your payments over 5 years. Click here to learn more about the financing options we have available.

LASIK doesn’t have to be scary (mentally or financially), think of the freedom you’ll enjoy. And just do that math – consider the amount of money you spend each year on glasses, contact lenses, contact solution, etc. – it’s staggering. 

At the end of the day you need to determine if you are a good candidate for LASIK, and a good place to start is by taking a self-assessment, followed by a consultation with a surgeon (not a sales person!).