What is the value of the ability to communicate?
There is of course no universal answer to this question, because it will depend on what is important to each particular person and family. Interestingly though, in 1995, a 31-year old woman underwent a routine biopsy at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. During this procedure, a nerve was severed and the woman sustained permanent damage to her speech and swallowing abilities. A Florida jury decided that such a devastating disability was worth $4.8 million in compensation! The ability to communicate affects every aspect of our lives. For our children it is essential for learning and future success. Obviously not many of us have $5 million to spend on improving our children’s speaking, understanding, reading and writing. Many insurance plans only cover $300-$500 per year, so you will need to be prepared to cover the rest yourself.
So what would be reasonable to spend? To help you make the decision, here is a list of the costs of various products and services that people may need or want to purchase:
|Physiotherapist||$50-$60 for 15 minutes|
|Backhoe & Operator||$65-$150/hour|
|Dance lessons for 9 months||$1000|
|Swimming lessons for a year||$480|
|YMCA summer day camp for 8 weeks||$1500|
|Big screen television||$2000|
|1 week vacation in Mexico for 4||$3000+|
|Buying lunch 5 days/week for 48 weeks/year||$2000|
|Tim Horton’s coffee every day for a year||$700|
Some of these services/items last a lifetime, others only a few years or less. Deciding what to spend on speech-language therapy is always a personal decision.
Why do we charge what we charge?
The Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists have recommended that Speech-Language Pathologists in private practice charge a rate of $190 per hour in order to make a comparable income to those working in the public sector.
Speech-language pathology services are actually priced well below that of many other professionals with comparable education (e.g., psychologists, optometrists, lawyers, accountants, management consultants, etc.).
Just like any business, I have to cover my costs which include:
- Equipment (e.g., computers and software, printers, fax machine, photocopier, telephones, etc.)
- Furniture (e.g., desks, chairs, filing cabinets, reception area, etc.)
- Tests and therapy materials (e.g., one test costs $500-$1400 and each test form costs $6)
- Property taxes / utilities
- Phone / fax / internet / email
- Office supplies (e.g., paper, toner cartridges, binders, scissors, post-it notes, etc.)
- Accounting / legal
- Mandatory licensing and association fees ($2,000 per year)
- Insurance (e.g., liability, office contents)
- Federal and provincial income taxes
- Advertising / promotion (e.g., pamphlets, signs, website, etc.)
- Professional development (e.g., conferences, workshops, books, etc.)
- Maintenance and repairs (e.g., office cleaning, fixing computers, replacing lights, etc.)
Also, Speech-Language Pathologists don’t bill 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Obviously we don’t bill anything on sick days, statutory holidays and vacation days. But even on work days, we usually only bill about half of the day, because there are many other things that need to be done:
- Preparation and documentation for assessment and therapy
- Returning telephone calls and emails
- Materials development
- Quality standards development, maintenance and evaluation
- Workload statistics / accounting
- Professional development / continuing education
- Student supervision
- Participation in association and college activities
I work hard to decrease my expenses so that I can pass on savings to my clients.