Society

Pet Veterinary Bills Expected to Rise Under Obamacare

| by Phyllis M Daugherty
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Since dogs have become family members, rather than animals on chains to scare away intruders, and cats lounge on our beds rather than sleeping in a barn and providing rodent control, they and other beloved pets that run, crawl, perch or slither have gained many of the benefits of humans, including huge advances in their health care.

The similarities in procedures now performed to prolong animals’ lives are often very similar to those applied to humans; many medications even have the same names. But when Obamacare was passed, nobody mentioned that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act could also affect pet care--and not in a positive way.

“Pet owners already spend more than $12 billion on veterinary care annually. Obamacare may make it even more expensive to care for your pet,” according to the New York Times.

CBS News warns that the next time you take your furry companion in for a checkup, you may be in for a very unexpected surprise. It seems there is an expensive unintended consequence from medical reform for humans which may result in a big rise in veterinary services.

“It’s found in the part of a new 2.3-percent federal excise tax on certain medical devices that just went into effect. The tax will help fund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, intended for people--not pets,” CBS reports.

The tax actually kicks in at the manufacturers’ level. Those who supply manufactured devices and machinery—the health technologies. that have now become essential to pet care--will have to pay the new tax. But, a recent survey found more than half plan to pass it along to their furry patients.

One dog owner told CBS that she was shocked to see her veterinarian post a warning on Facebook, which read:

“Because medical equipment and supplies will be going up in cost, that extra expense will have to passed on to the customers.”

Like most devoted pet owners, the dog owner said she is “already tightening her belt to pay for the increase in her dog’s care.” “They’re very important. They’re members of the family,” CBS reports.

Here’s how it will work. Medical devices used only on animals are exempt. However, items including IV pumps, sterile scalpels and anesthesia equipment, which are medical devices that have a dual use- meaning they can be used on people and animals--will be taxed.

The American Veterinary Medical Association says it is not yet sure exactly how much this new tax will indirectly cost their 82,000 members. They are waiting to hear from more device makers.

A recent survey of 181 manufacturers found that a 52.5 percent majority plan to “pass along some or all of the increased cost [of the tax] to our consumers.” Among North American manufacturers, the portion who said they would raise prices was an even higher 58 percent, reports Blaze.com.

Congressional sources who worked on the Affordable Care Act said lawmakers tried to exclude vets from being affected by the dual-use medical devices tax, but it is a complicated matter.

According to the report, veterinarians are urging pet owners to not let rising costs cause them to stop bringing their pets in for examinations. If any pet is sick or acting strangely, don’t delay care. That could just cause medical problems to get worse, they warn.

Author’s note: Please do not go on the Internet for a diagnosis or call friends who have pets and ask them what they think about some strange skin rash on your pet or why they think it is shaking its head continually, has an eye discharge, is lethargic, vomiting or limping---any symptom should be diagnosed by a veterinarian before home remedies or on-line drugs are administered. These can sometimes accelerate a condition and cause additional suffering to an animal that can’t tell you how it feels.

If you’re concerned with the cost of vet care, be sure to talk with your vet about payment plans or other financial options, CBS encourages.

Sources: (CBS, The Blaze)