‘Wheel of Vomit’: Yours free for the asking, because … Spring!


VPI1Back today from the American Animal Hospital Association‘s annual convention. As with most major conventions, we had a booth to educate veterinarians about our services both to pet owners (pet health insurance, which of course we started in the United States and still have top market share today) and to veterinary practices (our custom-designed wellness programs, Preventive and Wellness Services, or P&WS). If you weren’t at the conference or didn’t have a chance to visit our booth, you can still get materials to share with your clients, including the popular “Wheel of Vomit” that veterinary oncologist and author Dr. Ann Hohenhaus of the Animal Medical Center recently tweeted her delight with. If you want these materials, contact your VPI fields reps — we’ve recently doubled the number to better serve the veterinary community — or call our Veterinary Services team, 866-VET-4VPI (866-838-4874).

For me, these conventions mean a lot of meetings, such as the one I had with other stakeholders in the Partners for Healthy Pets, which works to support veterinarians by educating pet-owners about wellness care. It’s also a chance to catch up with friends and colleagues. One of the colleagues I caught up with was Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe, a dear friend who is the executive director of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. Andy is also a reservist in the Air Force, serving our country as an epidemiologist. Dr. Maccabe told me he is being promoted to the rank of Colonel, which is quite an accomplishment. I’m very proud of him, and if how well he represents our veterinary community.

#AAHANashville2014 was wonderful, but I’m always glad to have my routine go back to normal. With all the plane time, I’ve read a great deal, and have some good items to share today:

Should you look at your employee healthcare options again? No matter how you feel about the Affordable Care Act (a/k/a “Obamacare”), it is now law and seems likely to remain so. Over at DVM360.com, Dr. Christopher Allen, JD, suggests considering taking the opportunity to drop a practice headache:

Many small businesses have come to realize that their employees can do better in terms of health coverage, premium pricing and minimization of deductible and copay by purchasing their own coverage through the http://healthcare.gov/ website or one of the state-operated insurance exchanges. […]  As a result, some practices will simply walk away from their existing plan, calculate what they were paying per participant in the old plan and then pay that amount to their workers as a raise. One article on the topic in The New York Times quoted a business owner as saying, “We took the amount of money we were paying for their health insurance and just dumped it into their paychecks.”

It’s certainly something worth thinking about, and kudos to the Advanstar team for never backing away from divisive issues. The full article is here.

Getting students interested in practice ownership: Dr. Michelle Larson is a practicing veterinarians who’s also a member of our VPI team. She has a strong background in finance, which is a real asset to us as we work to serve the veterinary community. She used information from our VPI-Veterinary Economics Financial Health Study in a recent blog post discussing the student version of the North American Business Association (NABA), which was developed by AAHA. She writes:

The vision is that every veterinary college should have its own S-NABA to create well-prepared small business owners who can be intimately aware of the financial health of their practice, be ready for retirement on time, and understand that they have the financial means to achieve practice ownership. Their healthy financial future depends on it.

Dr. Larsen is trying to make this vision real. Read her blog post here.

One pet-related tax break few know about:  The more financial-savvy among us have probably already settled up with Uncle Sam for 2103. But they may have done so without realizing a tax break that I bet most veterinarians — and many veterinary clients — are eligible for.  From Parade magazine’s website comes the news that the time and expenses involved with fostering pets is tax-deductible:

If you foster cats or dogs, you can deduct these expenses too. You just have to show proof that you are fostering through a qualified 501(c)(3) organization. In some cases you may even be able to claim a portion of your utility bill if your foster operation is large. You can also deduct 14 cents per mile for trips made solely for the organization.

This is a fairly new ruling; check out how it came to be here.

And then I said … achoo! It’s that time of year here in California and it soon will be in other parts of the county. Spring is glorious, especially after the long winter many people have experienced. But for people with mild pet allergies, adding seasonal allergies on top makes life completely miserable. I looked for some good information on getting pet allergies in check and liked this compact overview on Vetstreet. Check it out here.

And finally … a laugh: Yes, I know it’s kind of corny, but it made me smile!