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Dr. Andy
Dr. Andy, Medical Director
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 30044
Experience:  UC Davis graduate, Interests: Dermatology, Internal Medicine, Pain Management
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Well, what is the average cost of MRI with anesthesia in

Customer Question

Well, what is the average cost of MRI with anesthesia in California. or Pennsylvania or the US? In Fair Markets, these numbers have to be transparent.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Andy replied 1 year ago.


Transparency is difficult because a test like a MRI, that requires anesthesia, has additional possible costs like additional pre-anesthetic testing for organ assessment. In addition, there could be additional costs for the consultation, biopsies, or any other tests that a particular specialist may typically do while the pet is anesthetized. Another cost is whether contrast is performed or not.

I would estimate $2000 to $2500.

Dr. Andy

Expert:  Dr. Andy replied 1 year ago.

Here's a cost estimate from a facility in West Hartford, CT:

I still think a range of $1800 to 2200 could be expected for a cat.

Dr. Andy

Expert:  Dr. Andy replied 1 year ago.

Due to restrictions associated with the California Veterinary Medical Board, they are now recommending that vets not assist by phone, as it can be construed as trying to establish a patient-client-doctor relationship without doing an exam. We can assist and provide comments in text which is recorded, but not by phone. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Dr. Andy

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I already had that article, as does any other Professional Reporter or 16 year old who Googled "cost of a feline MRI". Let's get focused. Who has the Data on whom is charging what. Or are we talking about a "what the market will bear" when it comes to diagnosis, and only diagnosis, required by feline Neurologists?
Expert:  Dr. Andy replied 1 year ago.

There is no such thing.

You would have to call each facility directly and ask them to prepare an estimate for you.

Veterinary medicine is not like our typical HMO's or even PPO's.

For example, just a physical examination where I practice in Calfornia, can range from $38 to $59. That's only in about 5 square miles of about 8 practices!

Massive variation.

There is no universal book.

Of course, it is only a specialty facility that will have the ability to do these MRIs and that equipment costs a lot of money. They have to make someone pay for it.

Dr. Andy

Expert:  Dr. Andy replied 1 year ago.

Here's a suggestion though...

You should call a veterinary pet insurance company. Not that you could get insurance. But, they able to provide some insight about a typical cost based on how much they might cover. Just an idea.

The big companies would be Trupanion, ASPCA Pet Insurance, or VPI by Nationwide.

Dr. Andy

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
You're off the dime, Doc. Thanks. That was my next best thought, pending if you guys (AVMA) had somebody somewhere tracking costs in your own industry. The early narrative from a long-time digit-head at one of those 3 companies you mentioned, expects harsher enforcement and/or re-invention of companion animal "prior conditions" (the whole coverage DQ cadre) or close to a tripling of the core portion of current premiums for animals in the next 3 years. Anybody who knows we are on the fast track to doing exactly what we did with Human Healthcare are highly financially incentivized to make sure nobody knows the obscene gross margins. On the Veterinarian side, private equity groups are grabbing up retiring Veterinarian practices, and turning them into clinic care. Experience with this event, tells me the Neo-Veterenarians are abdicating their full-care historical responsibilities, the second a Specialist would apply. I know what my recently retired, long-time Vet and confidant would have said in this case. "It's been an inside cat for 16 years. We can easily rule out head trauma. You say it has been progressively behaving like a cat getting statistically very old. He seems agitated and is mostly mapping a big circle in the house. To top it off, you say it's like he doesn't recognize you and he tends to fumble and walk into things. Baseline bloodworks are hitting uppers and lowers as all old cats do. X-rays are clean. Bad news is... high probabilities say he has a meningioma which has progressed onto the frontal lobes. If not exactly that, possibly a deeper gioma. I (from my meager tools and 40 years experience) see no indications he has anything metatstisizing raging through him. Why don't we skip denial, and the $4000 I know that greed obsessed bunch over at Hope will charge you. We'll go to steroids to reduce inflammation and any fluid, and phenobarbital to calm any neural ticks. Aside from any infections unexpectedly appearing,.. if we're wrong, it's likely he will stabilize and maybe make it back to some reasonable level. There is not one extra white cell in his blood right now, so we likely have a bit of time before something visceral will show itself. If we're right, you and Henry get a lousy deal, but we would already be doing all that is sanely possible to smooth out his final landing. You will have to decide when it's time to put down his landing gear." The absolute worst of this is that MDs and DVMs are increasingly seeing no conflict with clinical decisions, even though they have a financial interest in the Center to whom they are likely to kneejerk-refer patients. Which is exactly the case here. They openly admitted it, as if revealing it made it ethical. Then somehow completely forgot to tell us the absolute bare minimum for the procedure would easily eclipse $3000. Charlie Munger (Warren Buffett's lifelong business partner) nailed it long ago. "The problem with financial incentives, is that they do work." Thanks for your help. But I didn't get the data I need for a proper choice. In fact you confirmed, I'll never get a dependable price because of the myriads of bloodpanels, tissue samples, ultra-sounds and (used to be 1MM, now it's 10MM) other parts of the million$ workup. The fact the ADVM has no interest in following and reporting on their own industry, doesn't help your supposed credentials as an "expert" on the topic. In fact, it guarantees they are lousy.
Expert:  Dr. Andy replied 1 year ago.

"expert" on the topic of what a MRI should cost. No.

Fortunately, my interest is just in helping pets. As a single veterinaian amongst tens of thousands, I do not worry about the pricing of particular tests.

Wish you the best. Good Luck