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Traditional Reasons for a Medical Practice Valuation

Some economic reasons for a medical practice valuation 

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA CMP™

http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

The decision to sell, buy or merge a medical practice, while often financially driven, and is inherently an emotional one for these impact investors who went into the profession largely because of a deep seated zeal to help others.

Still, beyond impact investing musings, there are other economic reasons for a practice valuation that include changes in ownership, determining insurance coverage for a practice buy-sell agreement or upon a physician-owner’s death, organic growth meter, establishing stock options, or bringing in a new partner; etc.

Practice appraisals are also used for legal reasons such as divorce, bankruptcy, breach of contract and minority shareholder complaints. In 2002, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued rules that required certain intangible assets to be valued, such as goodwill. This may be important for practices seeking start-up, service segmentation extensions, or operational funding. Some other reasons for a medical practice appraisal, and the considerations that go along with them, are discussed here.

https://www.crcpress.com/Risk-Management-Liability-Insurance-and-Asset-Protection-Strategies-for/Marcinko-Hetico/p/book/9781498725989

Estate Planning

Medical practice valuation may be required for estate planning purposes. For a decedent physician with a gross estate of more than current in-place tax limits, his or her assets must be reported at fair market value on an estate tax return. If lifetime gifts of a medial practice business interest are made, it is generally wise to obtain an appraisal and attach it to the gift tax return.

Note that when a “closely-held” level of value (in contrast to “freely traded,” “marketable,” or “publicly traded” level) is sought, the valuation consultant may need to make adjustments to the results. There are inherent risks relative to the liquidity of investments in closely held, non-public companies (e.g., medical group practice) that are not relevant to the investment in companies whose shares are publicly traded (freely-traded). Investors in closely-held companies do not have the ability to dispose of an invested interest quickly if the situation is called for, and this relative lack of liquidity of ownership in a closely held company is accompanied by risks and costs associated with the selling of an interest said company (i.e., locating a buyer, negotiation of terms, advisor/broker fees, risk of exposure to the market, etc.). Conversely, investors in the stock market are most often able to sell their interest in a publicly traded company within hours and receive cash proceeds in a few days. Accordingly, a discount may be applicable to the value of a closely held company due to the inherent illiquidity of the investment. Such a discount is commonly referred to as a “discount for lack of marketability.”

Discount for lack of marketability is typically discussed in three categories: (1) transactions involving restricted stock of publicly traded companies; (2) private transactions of companies prior to their initial public offering (IPO); and, (3) an analysis and comparison of the price to earnings (P/E) ratios of acquisitions of public and private companies respectively published in the “Mergerstat Review Study.”\

With a non-controlling interest, in which the holder cannot solely authorize and cannot solely prevent corporate actions (in contrast to a controlling interest), a “discount for lack of control,” (DLOC), may be appropriate. In contrast, a control premium may be applicable to a controlling interest. A control premium is an increase to the pro rata share of the value of the business that reflects the impact on value inherent in the management and financial power that can be exercised by the holders of a control interest of the business (usually the majority holders). Conversely, a discount for lack of control or minority discount is the reduction from the pro rata share of the value of the business as a whole that reflects the impact on value of the absence or diminution of control that can be exercised by the holders of a subject interest.\

Several empirical studies have been done to attempt to quantify DLOC from its antithesis, control premiums. The studies include the Mergerstat Review, an annual series study of the premium paid by investors for controlling interest in publicly traded stock, and the Control Premium Study, a quarterly series study that compiles control premiums of publicly traded stocks by attempting to eliminate the possible distortion caused by speculation of a deal.

Human Skull

Buy-Sell Agreements

The ideal situation is for physician partners to put in place a buy-sell agreement when practice relationships are amicable. This establishes the terms for departure before they are required, and is akin to a prenuptial agreement in the marriage contract. Disagreements most often occur when a doctor leaves the group, often acrimoniously. Business operations of the practice decline, employee and partner morale suffers, feuding factions develop spilling over into the office, and the practice begins to implode creating a downward valuation spiral. And so, valuations should be done every 2-3 years, or as the economic circumstances of the practice change. Independence and credibility are provided, and emotional overtones are purged from the transaction.

Physician Partnership Disputes

Medical practice appraisals are often used in partnership disputes, such as breach-of-contract or departure issues. Obvious revenue declinations are not difficult to quantify. But, revenues may not immediately fall since certain Current Procedural Terminology [CPT®] code reimbursements may actually increase. Upon verification however, lost business may be camouflaged as the number of procedures performed, or number of patients decrease after partner departure.

https://www.crcpress.com/Risk-Management-Liability-Insurance-and-Asset-Protection-Strategies-for/Marcinko-Hetico/p/book/9781498725989

Divorce

Physicians getting divorced should get a practice appraisal, and either side may hire the appraiser, although occasionally the court will order an expert to provide a neutral valuation. Such valuations should be done in light of both court discovery rules and IRS requirements for closely held businesses. Generally, this requires the consideration of eight elements:

• Practice specialty and operating history
• Economic and healthcare industry condition
• Estimates of practice risks and future returns
• Book value and financial condition of the practice
• Practice future earning capacity
• Physician bonuses, dividends and distributions
• Intangible assets
• Comparable practice sales

https://www.crcpress.com/Risk-Management-Liability-Insurance-and-Asset-Protection-Strategies-for/Marcinko-Hetico/p/book/9781498725989

Assessment

Sometimes, the non-physician spouse may even desire a lifestyle analysis to evaluate the potential for under reported income, by a forensic accountant, or appraiser. A family law judge is often the final arbiter of different valuations, and because of varying state laws there may be 50 different nuances of what the practice is really worth.

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, urls and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements.

Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

***

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