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Low cost or free cataract surgery.

Low income households can apply for a number of cataract surgery financial assistance programs. Most of the beneficiaries of any aid include senior citizens, the disabled, and individuals that are facing blindness. Almost all of the financial help will be targeted at patients that lack health insurance and that also have a limited income.

Some of the agencies that offer assistance for people with cataracts provide the money for the surgery while other charities can refer the client to a program. Or there could be doctors that provide the cataract surgery for free. So the type of assistance will vary. However since a cataract could potentially lead to loss of vision, the goal is to help ensure each person that needs the operation can get it.

Below is a list of either charities and/or government programs to try for help. Applicants should bring proof of income, copies of health insurance policies, proof of being uninsured, and other documentation. Also be prepared to bring medical records.

Mission Cataract will assist patients with a very low income and no other access to financial help. This means they can't have insurance, either government or private plans. So the agency will only coordinate the surgery if the patient is not on Medicaid or Medicare and lacks a private health insurance plan.

The organization operates as a non-profit and relies on both donations as well as eye doctors to volunteer to perform the surgery. If it is determined that the vision problem could be corrected uses prescription glasses or some other work-around, then the operation will not take place. They only assist applicants that are at risk of vision loss due to the cataracts. Mission only operates in several parts of the country, so their resources are limited. For details call 559-797-1629.

Some public assistance programs can help pay for cataract surgery's. The programs include Medicaid, Medicare and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). There will almost always be a co-pay required by the patient. But the government benefits can help offset some of the expense involved. These benefits can be much more effective at paying for the cataract surgery if the patient is disabled or over the age of 65.




Community clinics may have optometrist or surgeons on site that can provide free cataract surgery. This tends to be more of a specialty service and will not be available at all health care centers. But they can be an option for patients.

Free cataract surgery from a clinic will only be for very low income families that lack insurance or whose policy does not cover eye care. Many of the recipients will be close to, or living in poverty. Other patients may be elderly that are living on a fixed income. So while eye surgery may be offered from some select medical centers, it is not as common. Find a listing of free community clinics.

Since an untreated cataract could lead to loss of vision if left untreated, a national non-profit known as Prevent Blindness America is a source of referrals. The staff can direct a low income household to either a financial assistance programs or a clinic that provides free or low cost cataract surgery's. Call  800-331-2020 for information.

There are a number of other free health care programs available. While they do not necessarily focus on eye surgery, some may help pay for a portion of the cataract operation. Or they can direct the individual to some form of insurance policy. The national organizations as well as non-profits may have suggestions for the person that is seeking help. When out of options it can be beneficial to try one of these groups, and find more details on free health insurance.





There are a few other organizations to try for information on financial assistance to pay for cataract surgery. Each may be a source of referrals. They include Knights Templar (847-490-3838) as well as USA Vision (phone 1-800-766-4466). Or just try asking your doctor or medical professional for a resource, as they can also be helpful.

By Jon McNamara

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