Does Medicare Cover Cataract Surgery?

If you’re wondering, “does Medicare cover cataract surgery?” the answer is yes, with certain conditions. Medicare typically covers 80% of the standard cataract surgery cost, as long as your doctor deems the procedure medically necessary.

You’re responsible for the remaining 20% after deductibles. This article outlines the detailed aspects of Medicare coverage for cataract surgery, including what costs you can expect to encounter and how supplemental insurance can help.


Key Takeaways

  • Medicare covers cataract surgery if deemed medically necessary, typically covering 80% of the cost, but patients are responsible for the remaining 20%, deductibles, coinsurance, and additional expenses for upgraded lenses or services.



  • Medigap supplemental policies can aid in covering out-of-pocket costs, such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles, associated with cataract surgery under Original Medicare.

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Understanding Medicare and Cataract Surgery Coverage

Provided the procedure is deemed medically necessary by a healthcare provider, Medicare will cover cataract surgery. When cataracts impair vision, a stronger eyeglass prescription may not be effective in improving it further. This is a typical situation in which medicare cover cataract surgery.

However, while Medicare does cover 80% of the expenses for cataract surgery, including the surgeon fee, anesthesia fee, and facility fee in an ambulatory surgical center, patients are accountable for the remaining 20% after deductibles.

Bear in mind, while Medicare provides coverage for critical surgical aspects related to cataracts, personal expenses such as deductibles, coinsurance, and additional costs for upgraded lenses or services may not be fully covered. Now, let’s delve into the specifics of Medicare Part B and Part A coverage for cataract surgery.


Understanding Medicare and Cataract Surgery Coverage

Medicare Part B: Outpatient Services

Coverage for medically necessary cataract surgery under Medicare Part B includes pre-surgery examination, post-surgery care, and the reimbursement of associated expenses for consulting an ophthalmologist. Medicare also covers one pair of glasses after cataract surgery.

However, patients are accountable for the yearly Medicare Part B deductible and a 20% coinsurance of the Medicare-approved amount for cataract surgery and associated services, including anesthesia. Medicare will pay for the remaining 80% of the approved amount.

The Medicare Part B deductible for cataract surgery is $226, and patients are required to pay this amount if they have not already met their deductible for the year, in addition to a 20% coinsurance.


Medicare Part A: Inpatient Services

When it comes to inpatient cataract surgery, Medicare Part A coverage comes into play. Cataract surgery performed in a hospital is covered at 80% by Medicare. The remaining 20% may be the patient’s responsibility or covered by supplemental insurance.

However, beneficiaries are required to cover the Medicare Part A deductible, which represents the out-of-pocket sum they must settle before Medicare coverage becomes effective for their cataract surgery.

Medicare Part A provides coverage for traditional and laser cataract surgeries, as well as specific lens implants. The out-of-pocket costs for those who only have Original Medicare typically range from approximately $200 to $800 per cataract procedure.

It’s also worth noting that Medicare Part A typically encompasses the expenses associated with inpatient medications for cataract surgery.

The Role of Medicare Advantage Plans in Cataract Surgery Coverage

Medicare Advantage plans, offered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare, offer another avenue of coverage for cataract surgery.

These plans generally cover cataract surgery when it is carried out by in-network providers. Additionally, many Medicare Advantage plans cover the complete cost of cataract surgery, which may alleviate patients from incurring out-of-pocket expenses.


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Keep in mind that under Original Medicare, any provider accepting Medicare can perform cataract surgery, while Medicare Advantage plans typically require the use of in-network providers. In other words, while certain Medicare Advantage plans may cover all expenses, they also have stricter requirements about who can perform the surgery.


In-Network Providers and Additional Benefits

Medicare Advantage plans establish in-network providers by forming contracts with doctors, other healthcare providers, hospitals, and facilities that fulfill CMS network adequacy criteria. These in-network providers often come with lower co-pay and co-insurance amounts, which can make a significant difference in the overall cost of cataract surgery.

Using out-of-network providers for cataract surgery in Medicare Advantage plans can often result in increased co-pay and co-insurance amounts. On the bright side, Medicare Advantage plans may provide expanded coverage for cataract surgery and supplementary benefits, which can help offset these additional costs.

Medigap: Supplemental Insurance for Cataract Surgery Costs

Despite Medicare’s substantial coverage for cataract surgery, significant out-of-pocket costs may still arise. That’s where Medigap policies come in. These policies serve as a supplementary coverage to Original Medicare, aiding in the payment of out-of-pocket expenses like copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles that are not entirely covered by Medicare.


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For example, Medigap Plan G provides coverage for all expenses related to cataract surgery, with the exception of the Part B deductible and the Medigap premium payments, thereby reducing the out-of-pocket expenses for the individual.

It’s most favorable to enroll in Medigap within the six-month Medigap open enrollment period, which commences once an individual reaches the age of 65 or older and has enrolled in Medicare Part B, to guarantee coverage for expenses related to cataract surgery.

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Types of Cataract Surgery and Medicare Coverage

Medicare’s coverage can vary depending on the type of cataract surgery. The traditional cataract surgery techniques covered by Medicare include phacoemulsification and extracapsular cataract extraction (ECCE). Medicare also covers the cost of laser cataract surgery if it is deemed medically necessary and is performed under Medicare Part B.

However, the coverage is more limited for advanced technology lenses, such as intraocular lenses (IOLs) designed to improve vision at various distances and address astigmatism. In many cases, patients will be required to cover the remaining cost when opting for an upgraded lens.


Traditional Surgical Techniques

Traditional cataract surgery techniques involve making small incisions near the cornea’s edge and using delicate instruments to break up and remove the cataract lens. Medicare offers coverage for these methods through Medicare Part B.

The payment from Medicare for these procedures may differ, however, it typically encompasses a substantial portion of the expenses for traditional cataract surgeries.

The out-of-pocket expenditure for individuals with Medicare Part B can range from $207 to $783, depending on the location and type of surgery.

Medicare also provides coverage for a conventional intraocular lens (IOL) for traditional cataract surgery, and it is common for patients to need glasses following the surgery. It’s important to understand how medicare pay factors into these costs.


Laser Cataract Surgery and Advanced Technology Lenses

Compared to traditional methods, laser cataract surgery, utilizing a computer-guided laser, is regarded as more precise and less risky. However, Medicare’s coverage for this type of surgery is limited, resulting in higher out-of-pocket expenses for patients.

Medicare does not provide coverage for the following lens implants for cataract surgery:


  • Multifocal lens implants
  • Toric lens implants
  • Crystalens implants
  • Light-adjustable lens implants
  • EDOF (extended depth of focus) lens implants


Patients will be required to cover the remaining cost when opting for an upgraded lens, such as those tailored for astigmatism correction or enhanced vision at various distances.

Nevertheless, opting for astigmatism management during cataract surgery can yield long-term financial benefits by potentially eliminating the ongoing expenses associated with glasses and contact lenses.

Post-Cataract Surgery Care and Medicare Coverage

Patients will require follow-up care and may be prescribed certain medications after cataract surgery. Medicare provides coverage for post-cataract surgery care, including follow-up medical appointments and prescribed medications like eye drops and antibiotics, provided by your healthcare provider.

Medicare Part D with Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug coverage will provide coverage for these prescribed medications.


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While Medicare covers basic post-surgery care, it does not cover routine eye exams and corrective lenses, with the exception of one set of Medicare-approved glasses or contacts after the surgery. So, what exactly does Medicare cover when it comes to vision correction after cataract surgery?


Vision Correction After Cataract Surgery: What Medicare Covers

Many patients require glasses or contact lenses to correct their vision after cataract surgery. Medicare does provide coverage for the cost of one pair of glasses with standard frames or contact lenses as prescribed by a doctor after a cataract surgery involving the implantation of an intraocular lens. In this context, it’s essential to know if Medicare cover glasses or contact lenses for your specific needs.

Nevertheless, Medicare’s coverage does not extend to additional features such as:


  • antireflective coating
  • scratch-resistant coating
  • tinting
  • over-size lenses
  • high-index lenses
  • progressive lenses


The patient is responsible for covering the cost of these premium features.

So how can patients ensure they have the right Medicare plan for their cataract surgery?

Navigating the Medicare Enrollment Process for Cataract Surgery Coverage

The process of Medicare enrollment for cataract surgery coverage entails choosing the most suitable plan during the open enrollment period, typically from October 15 to December 7. Various Medicare plans that provide coverage for cataract surgery include Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and Medigap.


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To secure cataract surgery coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan, follow these steps:


  1. Create an account with the plan.
  2. Complete the enrollment process.
  3. Upon successful enrollment, you will be sent a welcome letter from the plan outlining your coverage details.


In summary, understanding Medicare’s coverage for cataract surgery is crucial for patients who want to make informed decisions about their health care. Medicare provides substantial coverage for cataract surgery, but the specifics vary depending on the type of surgery and the patient’s choice of Medicare plan.

With this guide, you can navigate the complexities of Medicare coverage and make the best decision for your vision health.

Frequently Asked Questions



Is cataract surgery covered 100% by Medicare?

Yes, Medicare covers cataract surgery, but it typically covers around 80% of the procedure costs after the deductible is met, leaving the patient responsible for the remaining 20% and any out-of-pocket costs.


How much does cataract surgery cost without insurance in the US?

Cataract surgery without insurance in the US can cost between $3,000 to $5,000 per eye for standard surgery, and $4,000 to $6,000 for laser-assisted or advanced lens implant procedures.


What are the 3 types of cataract surgery?

The three major cataract surgery procedures are phacoemulsification, femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery (FLACS), and extracapsular cataract extraction (ECCE). Each procedure has its own benefits and considerations.


What is the difference between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans for cataract surgery coverage?

The main difference lies in the network of providers and coverage of expenses. Medicare Advantage plans require in-network providers and may cover all costs, while Original Medicare allows any Medicare-accepting provider and covers 80% of expenses.


What is Medigap?

Medigap is a supplementary coverage to Original Medicare, helping to pay for out-of-pocket expenses like copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.

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Russell Noga
( Medicare Expert )

Russell Noga is the CEO of ZRN Health & Financial Services, and head content editor of several Medicare insurance online publications. He has over 15 years of experience as a licensed Medicare insurance broker helping Medicare beneficiaries learn about Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plans, Medigap insurance, and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.