My $831 Eye Exam

A few weeks ago, I saw an optometrist in Covington, Louisiana, who charged $831 for an eye exam. He’s not a medical doctor, which is referred to as an ophthalmologist. It was my first visit to this eye care provider since I have lived out of country for nearly 10 years.  After fifty minutes or so, I left with a new prescription for eyeglasses, as I am now slightly more near-sighted than my current glasses were correcting. He also confirmed that my eye pressure was stable as I have had glaucoma for a number of years.

Imagine my surprise when I got a bill for $831.00 My insurance covered about half of this bill. I have $413.32 to pay out-of-pocket. Thus far, I have spoken with the clinic’s office, the insurance billing office, and the clinic billing office. All three have confirmed that the charges are correct.

I never saw a medical doctor, nor did I receive emergency or corrective services. I was not asked if I desired anything beyond a routine eye exam. In fact, I didn’t receive a complete exam, as I asked to skip the field test, as I didn’t want my eyes dilated that day as I had to drive over an hour shortly after. I can’t imagine if I had asked for a full exam.

While I lived in Honduras, I had very good medical care with doctors, clinics, and even an emergency hospital visit in first-class facilities. None of my charges there for any of these procedures came close to the amount I accrued in less than one hour with an optometrist* in the US.

As I write this post, I am waiting on the phone for a fourth consultation about the bill. I am not optimistic as thus far I have been advised to pay in full, preferably with a credit card. If not, these charges will be referred to a collection agency.

My advice? Run, don’t walk, to another country where medical care costs have not gone completely beserk. 

*The first version stated he had an associate degree. After re-reading his bio, I can infer that he has a master’s degree equivalency. His duties include low-vision help, routine exams and fitting contact lens.

26 thoughts on “My $831 Eye Exam

  1. In the U.S., optometrists have much, much more than an associates degree. Four years of undergraduate education plus a four-year doctoral-level program in optometry school go into the making of a Doctor of Optometry.

    But the bill you received is still remarkably high.

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    1. Red Shoes, he has completed graduate work which is the equivalent of a master’s according to the website if I read the bio correctly. He’s not a medical doctor. He works under a doctor of ophthalmology at the medical clinic. His bio says he specializes in routine eye care and fitting contact lenses. His office number rings in the optical shop.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not shy, I ask what the pain will be up front and let my feet decide from there. My last bill for two sets of regular glasses, one set up for sun with a dark tint was less than 300 USD with the eye exam and the man was a doctor. I did shop around. On my way out of Latin America a week ago, I saw an advert for the same package for under a hundred USD on Uxmal Ave. in Cancun. We did get all of our dental work caught up with on this last trip at a steep discount to what my local guy offers. Should I need a bridge or a crown, I’ll price flights first.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Norm, my sister went to the same guy. She paid $40 for the exam. Later, she had surgery to remove eye scarring tissue. Her total bill for surgery and follow-up was less than my eye exam bill. One wonders. I do have travel miles accumulated. I am considering getting the glasses done in Honduras when I visit again.

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  3. Most optometrists are well trained and do excellent work. They do have a limited scope of practice. That bill,however, makes no sense. I’d love to actually see the bill. Can you send a pict?
    And, keep fighting!

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    1. All I have now is a statement that has multiple charges for ophthalmology. I am waiting on the itemized statement to bring with me to the health care professional who performed the so-called multiple procedures. As I noted in an earlier comment to someone else, my sister used the same clinic and doctors. She eventually had surgery to remove scar tissue. Her office visits were always $40 after insurance paid its part. Not 400. Really this has to be a mistake.

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    1. I usually had eye exams and glasses made in Honduras. Because I have glaucoma I have seen my an eye doctor, an optholomalogist in the US a year or so ago. The bill was $100 total for that. Now I live in the richest county in Louisiana. Maybe they just feel they the market can bear the charges. I don’t know.

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  4. You got scammed. The so called doctors visit was probably $100, the frames about $120 and the lens the balance. In my opinion optometrists and low quality health care providers, kind of like a person who fits shoes. What they know can be learned in 6 months. Indeed in Mexico, it is about 3 months OJT. They are not doctors in the sense of an MD, nor are they doctors in the sense of a PhD. If you want worthless medical advice go to a chiropractor. If you value your eyes go to a ophthalmologist.

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    1. I tried to to see the ophthalmologist but she was booked up for months. I think optometrists have done fine for me in Honduras, so I didn’t hesitate to take the appointment. But this bill seems to suggest I had specialized care of some sort, when all I recall was a routine eye exam.

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  5. I have calculated that if I continue eating the way I have been, all of my systems are going to shut down within a year or two. And that is fine with me — rather than dealing with health systems up north.

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    1. Life is too short to worry about dieting overmuch. My grandma was “healthy” as she liked to put it. She ate well, she worked hard, and she lived to almost 98 years old. Even in her later years, she liked an occasional Whopper, Jr. and a cola. The health system is beserk, and that’s my final comment on that.

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  6. A routine eye exam in Canada is about $65. The government health care only pays for it if you are under 18 or over 65. Now that we live in Mexico we see a great opthamologist for about 600 pesos. The bill you got sounds like it included the price of glasses.

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    1. The charge for glasses would have been separate because he clearly handed me the new eyeglass prescription as I left. I was free to fill it wherever I chose. I saw an eye doctor in Honduras who gave me free exams because we were working alongside each other. My only cost was the wholesale price for the eyewear. She even gave me the glaucoma drops which are about $150 per bottle in the US.

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  7. $831?!?! Ouch!! That’s only about $150 less than what the surgeon who fixed my hernia last year got for the procedure. (Of course there were a ton of other fees piled on top of that.) Seems disproportionate for an eye exam. Here in Boston I think mine run about $200.

    I suggest you get a Costco membership and get the prescription filled there. They have the best prices in town, and I’ll bet could also have done the exam for a fraction of what you paid.

    Saludos y buena suerte,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where it staggers us what the medical profession can get away with. Seriously.

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    1. I was disheartened by the tone of the insurance and billing folks. They were totally unwilling to hear me out. It was if I was outright lying that I had only had a regular exam. We have a Costco but it’s not close to me. I probably will go to my hometown and visit two sweet ladies who are dear cousins. They own an optical shop. They provide excellent service and they give me a discount. I enjoy visiting with them, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is laughably ridiculous and yet another reason to NOT live in the United States. I get a yearly eye exam from a very good ophthalmologist in Morelia for the peso equivalent of $35.

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    1. It’s ridiculous, and more than likely, a billing error that I may be able to straighten out. I hope. One friend observed that I could fly to Honduras, get my eyes checked, get new glasses, and fly home for less than this bill. He’s right!

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  9. I hear you. Last week I had an angioplasty – outpatient, in and out in 20 minutes, all is well (thankfully), and since I’d not been able to eat or drink since midnight the night before they were serving me breakfast 30 minutes later: reconstituted eggs, gray sausage, limp English muffin. My co-pay is $1986.00. They called the evening before to tell me that and ask if I’d “like” to pay it when I checked in for my procedure. Um, in a word: No. I told them I’d call the billing office later and make arrangements. I have Blue Cross Blue Shield and did not think this would be so expensive (to me). I call it the “$2,000.00 Breakfast Not Fit to Eat”. Think how many of these are done in a day…my gosh.

    Anyway. I’ll be paying on it a while….seems like after a certain age it’s all about maintenance. Between medical co-pays, hearing aids, and so on it’s a monthly payment any way I look at it.

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  10. I’m surprised the insurance company wasn’t helpful. That was going to be my suggestion. I would think they’d want to lower their costs too. Interesting……

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