Is our veterinary surgeon ripping us off?

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Is our veterinary surgeon ripping us off?

This is a discussion on Is our veterinary surgeon ripping us off? within the Dog Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Background: Earlier this year, our 10 year old beagle developed a growth on his eyelid. A bright pink cauliflower-style growth that would get bigger, break ...

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Old 05-17-2016, 03:28 PM
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Question Is our veterinary surgeon ripping us off?

Background:
  • Earlier this year, our 10 year old beagle developed a growth on his eyelid. A bright pink cauliflower-style growth that would get bigger, break off in small pieces and regenerate every couple of weeks. He didn't appear to be in any pain or distress, but obviously we were concerned.
  • In March, our vet performed surgery to remove the growth. Unfortunately, given that the growth was attached to the outer edge of his eyelid, the vet could only reduce the mass not remove it entirely. It quickly grew back less than two weeks after the surgery.
  • Our vet then referred us to a veterinary surgeon specialist.


At the veterinary specialist consultation (which cost $200):
  • The veterinary surgeon reviewed our pup
  • Given the aggressive growth of the tumor, he said it was unlikely to be benign, but, of course, we would need to have biopsy done to confirm
  • He walked us through the recommended treatment plan. It would involve three main steps:
  1. Biopsy
  2. If malignant, staging to determine how aggressive the cancer was and whether it had spread throughout the body
  3. Treatment

Treatment options would depend upon type of cancer, what stage it was and how deeply entrenched the tumor was. Those options could include:
  • Surgical removal of the tumor and reconstruction of the eyelid
  • Laser removal of the tumor (using a, quote, "special laser" designed specifically for removing tumors in sensitive areas)
  • A combination of surgery or laser and radiation
  • Removal of the entire eye
  • Or, if too advanced or if it would not provide our pup with a better quality of life, perhaps no treatment at all.


We informed the surgeon that we had pet insurance. After we requested it, he said his surgical coordinator would send us an itemized estimate/treatment plan which we could submit to our insurance company to get pre-approval and an idea of how much the insurance would cover - this is the process we used for prior treatments for our dog.

A week later we finally got the estimate from the surgeon's office. It consisted of several line items including overnight hospital stays for a total of up to $3,023. We asked the surgical coordinator if he could break down the estimate further so that we could identify which specific line items applied to the three main steps (biopsy, staging and surgery/treatment). He responded by telling us that the $3,023+ estimate was just for the biopsy.

We've been fortunate enough to have not gone through this before, but that seems exorbitantly high.

So, is this pretty normal estimate, or do you think we might be getting taken for a ride. We've submitted the estimate to the insurance company, but we're already shopping around for an alternate surgeon.

I've attached a copy of the estimate (with sensitive info removed, obviously)






Thanks!

Last edited by CharliesDad; 05-17-2016 at 03:30 PM.
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Old 05-17-2016, 06:29 PM
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Sounds a bit high to me, but specialists are always much more expensive than regular vets. Would your regular vet be able to do the biopsy?
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Old 05-17-2016, 07:46 PM
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It sounds high, but there are a lot of things to take into account. Where your located is one, as big cities always cost more than smaller cities and towns. Some questions I would ask if it were my dog: Is there an option to be referred to another veterinarian that can preform the surgery? Or is this surgeon the only one in your area? Why do they require chest X-rays if the growth is on his eye? Can they FNA (fine needle aspirate) while your pooch is sedated instead and send it off to be tested? Why do they need 2 different biopsies? Can't they remove a piece and send that away? Have you run blood work recently? If so, most likely you shouldn't have to run it again (but this needs to be discussed in order to decline).

Just my thoughts, I believe the average cost for something similar (eyelid mass removal with histopathology) would cost some where around CAD$1,500 here, but that depends on location of the mass and other variables.

Last edited by KayWilson; 05-17-2016 at 07:48 PM.
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Old 05-17-2016, 07:56 PM
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You probably need to do some comparisons of other Vets in the same area. Also a lot of the costs go to support the facility, so if its a very well equipped facility with hi-tech equipment for diagnostic and treatment costs will understandable be higher, but the care would probably be better, as well as increased percentages of favorable outcomes.
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Old 05-17-2016, 09:25 PM
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For a specialist that actually sound about right. And if anything a bit cheap, here in Aus our specialist would charge double that for the same procedure.
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Old 05-31-2016, 10:42 AM
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Is it possible to find another specialist to give you another estimate? That way you can compare based on vets who live in the same area and make a more informed decision.
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