How Do You Know the Cost of Your Veterinary Service?

PetCostsThis is the question we addressed in the June 2015 issue of Trends Magazine, published by the American Animal Hospital Association. In the article we answered four questions:

Do you know the cost of the pet ownership, including the long-term cost of pet care?
What mechanisms are available to give you a better understanding of costs?
How does price-shopping impact costs and price transparency?
Is there a way for you to plan for long-term costs?

In our last post, we addressed the first question. In this post, we summarize our response to the second issue – how veterinarians can help you know what their services cost.

Does your veterinarians provide a Treatment Plan? We have found that the best mechanism of letting you know the cost of the service is the written Treatment Plan which outlines the recommended services and their costs. Some States, including Arizona, even require a written treatment plan with cost.

Donna Recupido, BS, CVPM, hospital administrator at Veterinary Specialty Care in Mt. Pleasant, SC cautions clinics not to quote costs prior to the exam visit, but to wait and provide the cost in the Treatment Plan. “The problem with offering price costs prior to the exam, she says, is that “without fail, you quote a new healthy puppy exam for $50 and ‘wallah,’ the puppy comes in and is sick. Or you say Strongid treats roundworms and averages $XX and, ‘wallah,’ it is occidia. Even when you quote a surgery for an ovariohysterectomy, the risk is that the pet comes in without updated vaccines or in heat. All of these things change that price and give the client the feeling that there was a bait and switch move. The reality is that quoting for anything you have never seen and have no history on is risky.” She recommends that veterinarisn give you the price for the exam and stop there. And, she says that your veterinarian should assure you that you will receive a detailed Treatment Plan after the doctor has had a chance to read the history and do the initial exam.

Establishing a Relationship and Communicating Value are Key.

In addition to a Treatment Plan, trust between you and your veterinarian is essential. In general, pet owners trust veterinarians to be ethnical and caring people, but you still want to understand the value of the treatment plan and have confidence that the pricing is fair.

Most veterinarians understand that communicating the value of their service is an essential element when approaching the issue of cost. Be sure that you take the time to engage with your vet staff, ask questions, share your knowledge of your pet’s health and habits, and listen to what doctor’s explanations.

We hope your veterinarian provides you with a Treatment Plan.  Please let us know how it works for you.

In our next post, we will discuss how price-shopping impacts costs and your knowledge of prices..

For an expanded discussion and review of the entire topic, read our article in Trends Magazine.

That will do it for today.

Carolyn and John

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