Article Date: 2/1/2005

point/counterpoint
BUYING EQUIPMENT: New or Used?

When it comes to furnishing your office with much-needed equipment, where do you go?

NEW
By John A. McGreal, Jr., O.D., St. Louis, Mo.

On May 28th, 2003, President Bush signed The Job Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 into law. The Act encourages businesses to increase capital spending by increasing the section 179 expense limit to $100,000, thus allowing practitioners to write off all equipment in the year of the purchase.

As the standard of care evolves, placing new equipment into practice allows us to take better care of patients. Glaucoma assessment now involves pachymetry, digital stereo-disc photography, scanning computerized ophthalmic digital imaging and quick perimetry. New instruments are efficient, allow for delegation, increase patient through-put, increase quality of care and generate revenue.

The marketing and clinical aspects of pre-owned equipment are identical to new equipment. The tax advantages inherent in new purchases most often exceed the savings associated with buying depreciated pre-owned equipment.

Finally, manufactures and distributors offer warranties, support and training often not associated with pre-owned equipment. Each practitioner needs to consider his individual needs, goals, finances and consult his tax advisor to make a prudent decision.

USED
By Michael Allen, Optician, Long Island, N.Y.

Before I make a capital equipment purchase, I do my homework so that I can make informed, intelligent buying decisions. In the case of optometric equipment, I've purchased several pieces of used equipment.

The most important advantage is that I'm getting value. I usually pay about half of what I would pay for a new piece of equipment. I don't pay the initial fees and taxes associated with new equipment and I don't have to worry about the depreciation or hidden charges. It's similar to a used car -- I pay only for the value of the equipment.

I recommend purchasing name-brand equipment only from dealers that provide excellent service, even after installation. I'm getting service equivalent to that offered by original equipment manufacturers for used equipment.

True, patients perceive 20- or 30-year-old pieces of office equipment as a sign of an out-dated practice. So I purchase equipment that's one or two years old. The equipment has to look new.

I personally don't calculate return on investment with each piece, but it's easy to see how much quicker a practice can reach its break-even point when it buys quality used pieces.

 



Optometric Management, Issue: February 2005