How do I have cataract surgery as an uninsured patient?

Cataract surgery is a common procedure that involves removing the cloudy lens of the eye and replacing it with an artificial lens to improve vision. While many people in Australia have medical insurance to cover the cost of this surgery, uninsured patients may still be able to access this treatment.

In this blog, we will review your options to have cataract surgery as an uninsured patient. It may be viable to first obtain Medicare coverage, or private health insurance before having cataract surgery.

Public hospital system

One option for uninsured patients in Australia is to access the public hospital system for cataract surgery. Public hospitals provide cataract surgery at no cost for patients with Medicare coverage.

The wait times for surgery can vary depending on the hospital and patient circumstances. Patients may need to wait several months before being seen at the eye clinic, undergoing an assessment and then being booked for surgery. There can then be another period of waiting prior to actually receiving surgery.

Within the public system, the patient cannot choose their surgeon. Additionally, it is most often the case that after cataract surgery, patients will need glasses for distance, intermediate and near purposes.

Regardless of these considerations, cataract surgery within the public hospital system is performed at a very high standard in Australia.

How do I have cataract surgery as an uninsured patient?
Medicare and private health insurance policies typically pay for a portion of cataract surgery.


Medicare can be used to access Australia’s public healthcare system, which provides eligible patients with access to a range of medical services, including cataract surgery. Patients with medicare coverage can obtain cataract surgery at no cost.

While Medicare does not cover the full cost of cataract surgery in a private hospital, it does provide a rebate for eligible patients. Patients should check with their doctor or hospital to see if they are eligible for Medicare rebates and what the out-of-pocket costs for the procedure will be.

Private Health Funds

Cataract surgery is deemed a medically necessary treatment, and most private health funds in Australia offer coverage for this surgery. However, the level of coverage and out-of-pocket costs can vary depending on the specific health fund and the type of policy you have.

It is important to review your policy and check with your health fund about the level of coverage and any additional costs you may incur for cataract surgery. Additionally, there may be waiting periods for certain procedures, so it is important to plan ahead and discuss your options with your health fund and eye specialist.

Within the private system, wait times for cataract surgery are generally much shorter than in the public system. Patients can opt for the surgeon of their choice. Postoperatively there is continuity of care, as the operating surgeon will often be monitoring post operative results over an extended period of time. There are also a higher range of lenses available, and in some cases patients may opt to be glasses free after cataract surgery.

While the cost of cataract surgery can vary depending on the hospital and the patient’s individual circumstances, there are resources available to help uninsured patients get the treatment they need to improve their vision and quality of life.

Patients should speak with their doctor or hospital to determine the best option for their individual needs and circumstances.

Vision Clinic Sydney

Vision Clinic Sydney can help with cataract assessments and offer cataract surgery. We provide a comprehensive eye examination to determine the degree of cataract severity and the best course of treatment. Depending on the severity of the condition, we may prescribe glasses, contact lenses, or other vision correction options such as surgery.

Contact us to book your initial consultation. We can also provide more information, such as how much cataract surgery costs, out-of-pocket expenses, and payment plan options.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below, you can find our most frequently asked questions:

Does Medicare pay anything toward cataract surgery?

Medicare does cover some of the costs of cataract surgery. How much they cover will depend on several factors, such as the surgeons’ and hospital fees. It is best to discuss this with your surgeon and find out what Medicare rebate you may qualify for.

Does a private health fund cover a cataract surgery cost?

Private health insurers typically do cover cataract surgery; however, there may be an excess or co-payment that needs to be paid by the patient. It’s best to check with the health insurer and the surgeon for the exact amounts.

How bad do cataracts have to be for insurance to cover them?

The decision to undergo cataract surgery is typically based on the severity of a patient’s symptoms and how much they are impacting on quality of life. Once cataracts become symptomatic and significant, the benefits of surgery outweigh the risks.

This information is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment. It is aimed at presenting a perspective only and is not a substitute for a prescription. Anyone experiencing a medical condition should consult their doctor.

Meet Dr Kumar

Dr Nikhil Kumar is a highly qualified ophthalmologist with a degree in Medicine from the University of Newcastle, which he obtained in 1998. Following his graduation, he completed his ophthalmology specialty training at the Sydney Eye Hospital in 2008.

His expertise in the field of ophthalmology includes cataract surgery, refractive surgery, corneal transplantation, and laser vision correction. His passion for the eye and its intricacies inspired him to pursue Ophthalmology as a specialty.

How to book an appointment

For your first appointment, you must have a referral letter from your General Practitioner or Optometrist in order to be eligible for a Medicare rebate for the consultation and any tests/procedures you may have performed at the clinic.

If you don't have a referral letter, you can still be seen at the practice, but you won't be able to claim a Medicare rebate.

You can download the referral PDF form or submit it online.

Please bring:

  • Any prescription glasses that you wear
  • Sunglasses or a hat as your eyes may be dilated during the consultation, resulting in possible sensitivity to light and blurred vision. You may not be able to read or drive for 4 hours after your appointment.
  • A list of current medications and details of your medical history
  • Your Medicare card, private health fund card and pension card if you have them.

Our location in Sydney

We are located in the central business district of Sydney in New South Wales. Our physical address is Level 6, Suite 605, 229 Macquarie St., Sydney NSW 2000, Australia.