November 16, 2016 by Harry Stoll
My best friend, Bo, a 2 year old Miniature Australian Shepherd, recently had to have some medical treatments and diagnostic work done at his doctor to check for a luxating patella (dislocating knee cap). The bill from the veterinarian for the check up and diagnostic work was approaching $350. Fortunately, his diagnosis turned out to be a Grade 1 luxating patella. Therapy, exercise and weight control should keep this genetic condition in check without having to spend much more. I was grateful for the good prognosis even if it meant managing the condition for the rest of Bo’s life.
Just out of curiosity, I asked Bo’s doctor what would happen if Bo’s condition was to get worse and that luxating patella would become a Grade 2, 3 or 4? I was told Bo would likely have trouble walking and exercising, and would require some sort of surgery. The cost? Anywhere between $1,500 and $3,000. Bo enjoys our walks and loves to play Frisbee. If his knee would require surgery we’d be faced with an expensive decision that would absolutely favor Bo. He would get his knee fixed. Do we have Pet Insurance to cover these medical expenses? No. Bo’s medical bills would be paid for with cash or credit card out-of-pocket, and we would pay these immediately without hesitation.
Yet, when I analyzed this hypothetical situation, I realized how ‘emotional’ this decision would be. I don’t even want to go to the dentist next month because I know it will cost me almost a grand. I was actually considering putting her off until next year. Notice the difference in my decision-making about my own healthcare as opposed to my best friend’s healthcare, a pet? I am not alone.
A new report from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) looks at veterinary medicine. They found there are similar characteristics between medical care for humans and medical care for pets. The study found spending on medical care for pets rose just as fast, even faster, than spending on human medical care over the past 20 years. They also discovered spending on pet medical care is correlated with income, just as it is with human medical care. The richer you are, the more you spend on medical care. The study indicates there has been rapid growth in the veterinary market sector just as there has been in the medical sector. Lastly, the study shows that pet medical care, just as with human medical care, experiences significant spending on end-of-life care.
The statistics show healthcare spending increased by about 50% in the USA from 1996 to 2012. However, spending on pet medical care increased a bit faster – by 60%. The study also compared medical care and pet care spending to consumer spending on housing and entertainment. Consumer spending for housing and entertainment increased modestly, almost remaining flat for a number of years in this study.
This study also demonstrated that even during the Great Recession of ’08-’09 when medical care spending dipped briefly, housing trended down, and entertainment took a nose dive, pet medical care spending shot up, peaking around 2009. People may have been cutting back on their own medical care during the Great Recession, but still spent on medical care for their pets.
Of course, not every patient spends money for their care. Some patients receive care, but don’t spend on the care. Some patients do not pay what they owe their doctors. At UCS, we invite medical facilities of all sorts and sizes to utilize our time-tested, proven system of medical collections. Whether your patient is a feline, a canine, a horse, or a person, if your medical bill has not been paid, send it to UCS for recovery. And remember, your patients are as important to us as they are to you.This is why our ACA certified Professional Collection Specialists will always act professionally and treat you patients with respect and dignity they deserve.
Founded in 1950, United Credit Service, Inc. is a full service, licensed revenue cycle management and debt collection agency in Wisconsin providing effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. Visit our website at http://www.unitedcreditservice.com, call 877-723-2902 or check out our YouTube video.