A little more than a week ago, a friend of mine got LASIK done on both of his eyes. His vision was extremely wretched with quite a bit of astigmatism as well. For the price of around $2400, and what was almost literally an overnight recovery (by the morning he was up to 20/30), he now has 20/20 vision and the possibility of improving to 20/15 or so. Apparently better than normal vision isn't an uncommon result from LASIK.
LASIK is almost universally NOT covered by health insurance (although you CAN often pay it with pretax dollars through an HSA or the like), and it is also one of the only medical procedures where the cost has fallen dramatically over time. The cost collapse hasn't been quite like that of computers, but it has fallen around an order of magnitude in only 10-15 years. Perhaps in anticipation of my questioning, my friend also talked to his provider about the business model being used as well.
Apparently in many LASIK shops, the manufacturer actually owns the equipment, and is paid a fixed fee every time the machine is used. In addition, they receive the results and feedback to help them drive software and hardware improvements. It's almost effectively a royalty model. Pricing is very transparent---even ADVERTISED in many cases, a clear departure from the opaque norms of medicine. Satisfaction with the procedure also is considerably higher than the norm and innovation in this space has been very strong (the procedures used now are a lot more reliable---thank you early adopters for beta testing for me in the future).
One wonders if there's any way we can move more of medicine onto this model (transparency, declining costs to customers over time, and strong technological innovation). Perhaps we could get areas of medicine banned from health insurance coverage?
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