Should veterinarians work for free?

February 22, 2014

bigstock-Persian-Cat-On-Bed-7402257Is it wrong to charge money for helping animals? Some people seem to think so.

What got me thinking about this was a vet visit today. Val needed her annual heartworm test and Stella needed her rabies booster so I could renew her license. I also had to refill her emergency Xanax prescription, as I had to give her a dose the other day when we had thunder, lightning, snow, and high winds all at once.

Anyway, my vet wouldn’t let me pay for the Xanax, and gave both dogs a cursory examination as well as the vaccination and heartworm test. He charged me, total, $46. I don’t know how he stays in business, frankly.

Which got me thinking about a lot of online and in-person conversations I’ve had recently with people who seem to think all vets are in it for the money, which has been very far from my experience even in California. And here’s how it breaks down:

Them: “I can’t afford vet bills. The vets should just not charge so much, and they should donate their services to people who can’t afford to pay. Don’t they care about the animals?”

Me: “Have you considered pet insurance?”

Them: “I can’t afford pet insurance. The vets should just not charge so much, and they should donate their services to people who can’t afford to pay. Don’t they care about the animals?”

Me: “Have you asked at your vet or the local shelter to see if anyone has a program that helps pet owners in need of assistance with vet bills?”

Them: “No. The vets should just not charge so much, and they should donate their services to people who can’t afford to pay. Don’t they care about the animals?”

I absolutely get that there are people who can’t afford to pay veterinary bills or insurance premiums, and I do believe there should be assistance programs to help those pets get care AND stay with their owners. I support a couple of programs like that.

I also think that pet insurance is just about the last thing I’d stop paying if I got into financial trouble, and I think people who can afford it and don’t have it are missing out.

But what I also think is there’s a subset of people who seem to think it’s wrong for anyone to make money helping animals, who truly believe vets should work for free just out of the love of animals, and will not accept any solution other than that.

Those people may not be many in number, but they sure do post a lot on social media.

Filed under: veterinary medicine — Christie Keith @ 8:00 pm

27 Comments »

  1. There are also those of us who have seen the fees for a given service double or triple in a few years, during a recession in which inflation rates stayed <3% every year.

    I've witnessed this with spays, PennHIP films, and emergency visits, among other things.

    Not at every practice (except for the PennHIP, which looks an awful lot like racketeering in this market nowadays, as suddenly all the practitioners are charging the same amount and it's nearly triple what I used to pay).

    Acknowledging that everybody needs to make a living and be paid fairly for their expertise and capital outlay is not the same thing as never questioning a bill or making decisions based on price.

    Being a good client is not the same thing as being a sucker.

    Comment by H. Houlahan — February 22, 2014 @ 8:08 pm

  2. Having just spent close to $5K since early January on vet costs for my 13 year old dog, part of it emergency care and part of it diagnostic, I believe the following.
    1. I don’t have vet insurance, and while it would have been great to have most of this covered, I can’t undo my decision. Truth is, Bennie has been pretty healthy and hasn’t cost me much at the vet until the last 3 years.
    2. As I am now unemployed, I’d love to have a group step in and help me pay for some of his care. I have friends with more money than I have, who are getting expensive treatments for their rescue purebreds (assisted by the breed rescue organization) and for their retired police dog (by the community). There don’t appear to be a lot of groups that step up for big black mutts… just like there aren’t many people who want to adopt them!
    3. All of that said, I have done everything I can to support and maintain my dog’s health throughout his life. Excellent food, safe environment, etc. Now he’s old and apparently has myeloma; I may not be able to afford all the care options that his vets can offer me to prolong his life. I will pay what I can afford, to keep him happy and pain free, for as long as I can. I trust his vets and take responsibility for asking them about diagnosis and treatment options that will benefit Bennie and that I can afford. I don’t expect them to underwrite the costs but I do expect them to work with me on as many options as possible. I and I alone am responsible for my pet’s care.

    When I can, I love to support groups that provide funding for pets whose owners cannot afford care. There’s a great group in Berkeley called Paw Fund and they do this for the most indigent of pet owners. No shame on the people they serve–many of whom are homeless. They just focus on helping as many animals as they can.

    Comment by Sandy — February 22, 2014 @ 8:28 pm

  3. In addition to the absolute truth of what Heather said, I think you can all too easily hear complaints that sound like “vets shouldn’t be making money off this” when a pet owner is operating on frayed nerves and desperation because a pet has a)sudden, unforeseen b)really serious c)very expensive vet care needs. They’re not speaking from a rational place.

    We also have the current campaign promoting the idea that VACCINES ARE A PROFIT-DRIVEN FRAAAUUUUDDD! intersecting with the fact that too many vets are still resisting the reduced vaccination recommendations which have been out there from reputable sources for nearly a decade now. I suspect most times it’s not directly about money; it’s more about the vets not having worked out a better way to get clients and patients in at least annually. But for people who are being affected even minimally by the anti-vaccine propaganda, it’s natural that they would attribute it solely to greed.

    Comment by Lis Carey — February 22, 2014 @ 9:21 pm

  4. I took my three in for their annual bordetella, lepto and the DAP was due this year. They had a cursory physical, heart lungs, ear check, the usual.

    The bill was $360 (almost $50 was sales tax). I should mention I get a 10% discount and there’s an all-in fee of $80 for the exam and vax.

    The visit fee at my clinic – which I love – is $62.50 and the meter ticks up from there. My vet is super competent and I don’t like changing clinics, but a lot of people can’t afford that.

    As for the insurance, I suppose I should look into it, but it doesn’t cover a lot of things, one of my dogs was already too old when I got her and given that my dogs are healthy overall, I’m probably farther ahead just paying as I go.

    Comment by Selma Mulvey — February 22, 2014 @ 9:24 pm

  5. Of course vets should be allowed to make money off their services.

    Though like Heather said I have to wonder why certain things have gone up the way they are. We went with the cheaper OFA option for Apollo’s hips and elbows…..

    My vets office is good about explaining fees and giving out a breakdown of their charges for various things though, which helps.

    Comment by Ruth — February 23, 2014 @ 7:25 am

  6. Two cats pulled from the shelter – exam, FIV/Feleuk test, basic vaccinations (no rabies) urinalysis on one of them to check for infection. Bill was just over $300. And this was with the rescue discount…

    I buy Drontal Feline online because I pay less than $5 a tablet there. My vet charges $15 a tablet. Worming ferals, that adds up fast.

    What bothers me is vets who complain about TNR/low cost clinics cutting into their business.

    Comment by mikken — February 23, 2014 @ 9:59 am

  7. Selma, you wrote, “As for the insurance, I suppose I should look into it, but it doesn’t cover a lot of things, one of my dogs was already too old when I got her and given that my dogs are healthy overall, I’m probably farther ahead just paying as I go.”

    I haven’t had a problem with insurance not covering things — what are you referring to?

    I don’t think the concept of “better off paying as you go” really makes any sense. Pet insurance isn’t an investment. It’s a safety net to protect us and our pets from having to make a care decision based not on medical but financial concerns.

    And while Rawley and Val’s (and before them, Kyrie’s and Rebel’s) health insurance policies paid off many times above the premiums I paid, I am MOST happy about the fact that Stella’s premiums haven’t paid off, because it means she’s been healthy. Just as I’m glad my auto or homeowner’s insurance haven’t “paid off” because I haven’t been in a car crash or had my home burglarized!

    I truly think we are conceptualizing insurance all wrong!

    Nonetheless, that’s not the point of my post. My point is there are those people, who are very vocal on social media, who are complaining about increased and/or unaffordable veterinary costs, but when you offer any solution to that other than “vets are greedy and should work for free/nearly free,” they object.

    They will not be content until anyone can dash into a veterinary ER with a sick pet and receive instantaneous care without any provision for payment.

    That is not the same as saying any individual veterinarian might not be over-charging — because certainly, I have seen some who do! — nor that any individual pet owner may need assistance to care for his or her pets, because clearly, some do.

    Comment by Christie Keith — February 23, 2014 @ 10:41 am

  8. Mikken, if I went to my physician and had an examination, a test for retroviral disease, vaccinations, and a urinalysis, the cost would be in the four figures. There would be no discount because I came from an orphanage, either!

    So for one cat, that was $150, which I would suspect barely covers the lab costs of the tests and UA. And yet, not one of the things you describe is easier, requires less training or skill, or is less expensive than in human medicine.

    So is it TOO EXPENSIVE, or is it just more than you can afford, or someone else might WANT to afford?

    The reality is, most (not all) veterinarians undercharge for their services for the same reason most (not all) pet owners feed kibble instead of a home-prepared diet: It’s less expensive, and if cheap vet care and kibble weren’t the cultural norm, we’d have fewer pets in our society.

    That doesn’t change the fact that $150 for the services you just described is REALLY cheap. It might stretch someone’s personal budget, but still… that’s cheap.

    Comment by Christie Keith — February 23, 2014 @ 10:58 am

  9. Ruth, I think vets raised their rates because they’d historically been undercharging and when the recession hit, three things happened.

    One, people cut back on vet care to save money when vet costs went up and also due to the impact of the recession on them in other ways.

    Two, the Bayer Study was published, and spelled out the catastrophic financial state of vet med, showing veterinarians just how bad things have gotten and leading them to make changes that were badly communicated and bigger than they would have been if implemented slowly over the previous years.

    Three, what’s POSSIBLE changed — a pet who would have been put to sleep because there were no care options a decade ago can now have an MRI, an organ transplant, or other costly care that was just unavailable before.

    Now, the problem from our perspective as pet owners is that we obtained our pets, and formed our ideas of what’s reasonable to pay for their care, during those unrealistic years. Is that our fault? It isn’t. We had experience-based expectations that are now being confounded, but we still have our pets and our expectations.

    So the vets are being squeezed by the consequences of years of bad business planning and decisions plus the recession, while we’re being squeezed by the recession and increases in veterinary expenses that are abrupt and steep.

    It’s a bad situation for all of us, and for our pets.

    Comment by Christie Keith — February 23, 2014 @ 11:03 am

  10. I think you may be misinterpreting the complaints. The Internet being what it is, for all I know there really are a few people who genuinely think vet care should be free – but I suspect most people are afraid. As Lis Carey point out, irrational. Not willing or ashamed, perhaps, to just admit there’s care they can’t afford to pay for upfront in full, or not at all, not even on credit.

    As for insurance and what it won’t cover … I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: it’s not always worth it. I’ve periodically looked at the pet insurance available in my area, as my husband’s work offers a small subsidy for it. But there’s a LOT it won’t do. Pre-existing conditions are excluded. Policies for younger pets exclude conditions and ailments by breed and sometimes body type (such as long-backed dogs) and cap payments generally somewhat below prevailing clinic rates. Those for elderly pets are very limited, have low lifetime caps, and are expensive. Benefits for expensive illnesses such as cancer – for any pet – have lifetime caps well below likely costs for my area. It also excludes treatments it considers ‘experimental.’ On top of which, there are some pets it just won’t cover at all, like my disabled kitty P’Gell.

    Mind, I’ve seen pet insurance that’s not like this, that offers what look on paper (or online) to be reasonable plans for all kinds of pets, but it’s not available where I am and there’s no telling if it ever will be.

    So, for our household, we’ve got a fund set up at the credit union, tied to a checking account so it’s immediately accessible. It’s served us very well.

    Comment by Eucritta — February 23, 2014 @ 11:31 am

  11. “But there’s a LOT it won’t do.”

    Aside from pre-existing conditions — which NO pet insurance covers — everything you’ve listed is covered by one insurer or another. Maybe not where you live (which is where?), but by U.S. insurers.

    Christie’s comment (No. 7) about sums up what I think about pet health insurance. It’s a must-read.

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — February 23, 2014 @ 11:40 am

  12. I’m in northern California.

    I would point out, here, that companies also offer different policies depending on region. So the company here might well – in fact does – offer better policies elsewhere. But here? For my pets? No.

    I will say it over and over: before buying pet insurance, look into it carefully. It might be just right for some – even many. But it’s not right for our household.

    Comment by Eucritta — February 23, 2014 @ 12:10 pm

  13. Oh – and as an afterthought … we’ve many friends in the UK who have pet insurance that’s akin to HMOs here: it’s through specific clinic chains and covers comprehensive preventative care as well as emergencies or major illnesses, and it’s not even all that expensive. So far as I’m aware, nothing like it is offered in the US.

    I wish it were.

    Comment by Eucritta — February 23, 2014 @ 12:17 pm

  14. Eucritta, I had both Pets Best and Embrace, which cover those things, in Northern CA, and that’s where Gina lives, and she has them, too. I think you must be confused.

    Comment by Christie Keith — February 23, 2014 @ 12:20 pm

  15. Pet insurance is regulated by state agencies, same as any other insurance. What is offered varies by company, and varies widely. Pet health insurers offer different coverage based on issues such as age, and breed (a bulldog will cost you more to insure).

    In California, as Christie says, you have EVERY POSSIBLE OPTION available in the United States, because EVERY company wants access to California’s huge population.

    Eucritta, I think it would be extremely helpful if you verify what you believe to be true before you say even one more thing about pet health insurance. Pretty much everything you’ve said so far is either incorrect or possibly out of date.

    If you choose not to have pet health insurance based on actual facts, coverage options and circumstances, that’s your call. But as per Pet Connection tradition, we are going to ask that your comments here reflect actual facts.

    And by the way, although I do not personally recommend it because I am no fan of Banfield, they offer plans that are HMO-like if that’s what you’re looking for.

    (And yes, I do work for one of the pet health insurance companies, as of last fall. But I have long supported the concept with my own hard-earned money.)

    Comment by Gina Spadafori — February 23, 2014 @ 1:10 pm

  16. I’m afraid I have to second some of the concerns about pet insurance. (And I’d be happy to provide verifiable information to anybody who is interested.)

    I’m in Northern California, Sacramento area. About 15 years ago, I had a dog diagnosed with an autoimmune blood disease. I had no insurance, and she unfortunately died after I spent about $10,000 at UCD Veterinary Medical Center (no regrets–it’s just the way it was). That prompted me to get pet insurance. At the time, there was really only one company that offered it, and I enrolled all my subsequent dogs.

    I seldom made claims, even when I could–not for anything less than $1000 because I basically saw it as catastrophic insurance and certainly didn’t want to come out ahead.

    As (bad) luck would have it, I had another dog diagnosed a couple of years ago with the same autoimmune blood disorder. Again, she unfortunately died after several months of treatment (and about $12,000). Again, no regrets about the veterinary practice–I was glad to give Piper the best chance possible

    When I submitted the claim, I got about $5000 (after some hassles and complaints). Other companies may be different, but this is definitely a Buyer Beware situation. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible for the consumer to even know what he or she is buying. The insurance company caps the diseases at ridiculously low levels and treats some of the symptoms as “secondary.” There is a defined benefit plan made available to the consumer, but the lay person has no way of knowing what a particular event is likely to cost and so whether the defined benefits listed for several hundred different diseases are reasonable or likely to hit the lifetime cap in a short period of time. Add in the “secondary diseases” (really symptoms of the primary disease) and the system is incomprehensible–even to a vet.

    If I did decide on pet insurance again, I would avoid any company with a defined benefit plan, considering only companies that reimburse based on actual expenses.

    My older dog is still on the same pet insurance plan. (I may be coming out even slightly ahead now since I now claim for everything!) For my younger dog, I have set aside money, and contribute to the account monthly automatically.

    Comment by Arlene — February 23, 2014 @ 2:08 pm

  17. Arlene, the benefit schedule is definitely to be avoided at all costs. However, I’m aware of only one company that still uses that model. I think it’s unfortunate that so many people had that experience in the early days of veterinary insurance, because it’s soured many on it, but things are totally different now.

    I have insurance with two different companies, and every time I’ve made claims, they’ve paid almost the entire amount of very large bills. I’ve never had either company end up not paying, although I did have to appeal two denials to Pets Best. But they paid after the appeal.

    So by all means, say you have concerns about the plans offered by a particular company, or about a certain type of insurance, but don’t extrapolate that out to all pet insurance. It’s just not accurate, and it’s part of the reason why so many people who would be HELPED by pet insurance don’t give it a try.

    Comment by Christie Keith — February 23, 2014 @ 2:25 pm

  18. Its been 3 years since I last looked at insurance.

    I have a giant breed dog.

    In order to get coverage for potential “genetic problems”, including dysplasia, I’d have to pay extra for coverage from most companies. And there’s no exceptions made for a dog from health tested lines (which there ought to be IMO).

    Then I looked at payout lists, where the companies listed how much they’d pay out for various things. Many of them, the caps in coverages would barely have covered my CAT (and in several cases I have the bill’s to prove how much those things cost me for said cat!), never mind the giant breed dog I was getting.

    Almost every insurance company I looked at required actual vaccinations instead of titers.

    EVERY insurance company I looked at would have docked my coverage for specific events or problems because I kept him intact. Cause obviously if he gets hit by a car its because he’s still got his balls…..Don’t tell me that I could get a vet’s exception for a later neuter to waive that, he’s 3yrs old and at this point I have no intention to neuter him at all.

    Thanks but no thanks. I’ll stick with the savings account that I’ve set aside for my pet’s medical coverage. I determine whats “covered” by that savings account and whats not. AND I keep my money at the end of the year if nothing has happened, PLUS the interest it earns. Is it possible that something extreme could happen that could “max out” that savings account? Sure, but it’d take something pretty catastrophic…..I’ve been putting 4 animal’s worth of “premiums” into it for years. Lets just say the above mentioned $12k bill would do it, but not by much.

    Comment by Ruth — February 23, 2014 @ 6:00 pm

  19. Ruth, I have THREE giant breed dogs. In the past, I’ve had others. ALL my insured pets have been giant breed, purebred dogs. Every single one of them.

    I have had policies with two companies that did not have the features you describe, Pets Best and Embrace.

    None of my dogs’ policies capped a particular condition or treatment. The caps are per-year, and you choose that cap based on what you want to pay in premiums.

    None of my dogs’ policies excluded genetic conditions, only pre-existing conditions.

    None of my dogs’ policies docked my coverage for specific events or problems because I kept them intact (although all did offer a slight discount on the PREMIUM for a spayed or neutered pet).

    None of my dogs’ policies required annual vaccinations, nor have I ever given annual vaccinations to my dogs.

    As to “catastrophic,” with giant breed dogs, I have had my share of catastrophic vet bills. The reason I got vet insurance in the first place, many years ago, was my Deerhound Raven got bone cancer; her treatment cost me over $10,000. The next year, my Deerhound Bran got acute kidney failure. I took him to UC Davis for dialysis, but lost him at age 4. That cost me $14,000.

    Since then, I’ve had insurance. This is what’s happened:

    My Borzoi, Kyrie, got a stubborn MRSA infection that required months of antibiotics and dermatologist visits. Total cost was $10,000, of which Pets Best paid over $9,000.

    Kyrie also got cancer, a spindle cell carcinoma on her sternum. Surgery was $3,700. Pets Best paid $3,200.

    My Deerhound Rebel got her MRSA in his bladder. The antibiotics alone cost over $4,000, plus many vet visits and tests. Pets Best paid all but $350 of that, despite bladder infections being “pre-existing” since he’d had a urethrostomy for a genetic condition. But since this bladder infection was related to Kyrie’s MRSA, they covered it.

    My Deerhound Rawley started having chronic pneumonia about two years ago — an emerging genetic problem in our breed. His vet bills are now just south of $10,000 for that alone, of which Embrace has paid about $8,000.

    About a month or less after I adopted my Greyhound Val, when I’d paid exactly ONE premium to Pets Best, she was hospitalized with leptospiros. Bill: $3,750. Pets Best paid $3,200.

    So allow me to express my doubts that we’d all be better off if we’d just put a few bucks away every month. I certainly wouldn’t.

    But even if I would, that’s not the point of insurance. As I said above, I don’t cry every year when I don’t get into a car crash that my car insurance was “wasted,” or regret my home wasn’t destroyed in a fire so I could “get my money’s worth” out of my homeowner’s insurance.

    I have pet insurance so I can make my pets’ health care decisions on a medical, not financial, basis. And that is, to paraphrase the ad, priceless.

    Comment by Christie Keith — February 23, 2014 @ 7:54 pm

  20. Best Pet apparently doesn’t want to do business with me as I’ve requested a quote from them 4 times in the past 3 years (cause everyone keeps recommending them) and they’ve yet to be bothered to actually talk to me.

    I didn’t keep any of my old quotes after we decided, again, to not go with insurance, but I’d swear that Embrace is one of the ones I looked at when we first got Apollo and what they list as their coverage now isn’t what I remember. But for a $10k/year cap I’ll stick with my savings account, cause its costing me less than half what they want for a premium for him to keep that up to date.

    Comment by Ruth — February 23, 2014 @ 9:37 pm

  21. Pets Best not Best Pet, cause yah, I can’t type.

    Comment by Ruth — February 23, 2014 @ 9:39 pm

  22. I also thought pet insurance was a racket until I read about Gina’s experience with Embrace. After doing my research, I found the coverage very good and pretty easy to understand. They cover all of the typical German Shepherd inherited issues as well as injury and illness. We are not required to either titer or vaccinate every year. Our “preexisting condition” is allergic dermatitis, which has not been an issue since we switched to raw 2 years ago.

    In our first year we got more return than we paid in when our little angel fractured a molar that required treatment, so I’ve got zero complaints about this particular insurance.

    After much thought when we renewed, we decided to switch to a catastrophic policy with a high, but manageable deductible. It’s nice to know that this is available to us for a very reasonable cost. Our dearly departed rescue dog’s cancer treatment topped $15K and we did not have pet insurance. That plus the things Gina wrote about Embrace (in particular) had me rethink my opinion on pet insurance.

    Comment by Rebecca — February 24, 2014 @ 10:41 am

  23. I’m in Ontario, Canada.

    When I first checked into pet insurance, I had a Dachshund and a Rottweiler. Both breeds were considered high risk for insurance, so the premiums would have been very expensive and there were a lot of exclusions, including, obviously, pre-existing conditions.

    Currently, with three dogs that are healthy and of a breed with almost no health issues beyond generic things such as hip dysplasia, I’d pay out at least $180 a month for insurance, give or take. I admit I haven’t asked for an actual quote, I should do that for my own information. If I bank that money instead and don’t use it, at the end of the year I still have it to roll over, along with some paltry interest.

    Since I also have a great relationship with my vet, I’m confident that in the event of something major, I would be able to pay over time.

    One of my dogs was over 5 when I got her, so on the policies I looked at she would not be covered, or if she were, not for long.

    I certainly wouldn’t complain about my vet’s fees, but for people who are feeling the pinch of joblessness, etc, that visit fee is expensive.

    At the pet food shop, we get people daily looking for over-the-counter treatments for parasites, for example. I always urge them to visit the vet, because worming meds are very cheap, but they have trouble with the visit fee which is universal around here at $55 – 75 to walk in the door for an appointment.

    Comment by Selma — February 24, 2014 @ 5:53 pm

  24. I truly believe that we are thinking about insurance ALL WRONG when we think that we can “come out ahead” by putting money every month into a savings account that is equal to the monthly premium of a pet insurance policy.

    Let’s do a little math to illustrate why this thinking is flawed. I’ll use my insurance as an example: I have Pet Plan insurance for my cats. The premium is around $20 per month per cat. I get $10,000 in annual coverage for non-preexisting conditions, minus a $200 per-condition deductible, with no caps.

    If I put $20 per month in a savings account, after one year I have saved $240. After 10 years of saving and never spending a dime from the account, I still only have $2,400 plus some paltry interest.

    But say I do purchase my Pet Plan insurance policy. According to my policy, the first $20 monthly premium I pay entitles me to have $10,000 (per calendar year) of veterinary expenses covered! This means that every single year of coverage, if I had to because my cats get sick or injured, I could have Pet Plan pay $10,000 per cat in veterinary expenses. In my case, pet insurance steps in immediately for 4 times the amount of money I’d be able save over a 10 year period of putting premiums in a bank account! Trust: I’m ecstatic to pay for pet insurance.

    If your plan is to save money in an account earmarked for vet bills, the only way that is going to realistically work out is if you start saving before you acquire your pet, only get your pet after you have amassed a significant sum, and never touch that account for anything else that comes up. (This is not a bad financial decision even if you also plan to buy pet insurance!)

    What you get when you buy pet insurance is not an investment vehicle; you are buying the privilege of knowing the insurance company pays vet bills for each of your covered pets, based on the details of the policy you buy. You are buying the peace of mind of knowing the vet care is covered whether you have lots of money sitting in a bank account or not.

    Comment by Martha — February 24, 2014 @ 6:44 pm

  25. When I compare what it costs for my dog to get treatment vs. what it costs me to get treatment, I find it amazing. I have a friend who is a vet, and her education cost her every bit as much as if she decided to be an M.D. It doesn’t cost any less to do lab work on an animal than to do it on a person and the bills seem to be comparable in that respect, but the last time I consulted with a surgeon, the bill was $650.00. My vet hasn’t even come close to that for a surgical consult on my dog. I DO have a problem with the fact that pharmaceutical companies have incentive programs for veterinarians who prescribe their latest and greatest when a cheaper drug would do. That kind of thing was outlawed in human medicine a long time ago.

    I owned my own business for over a decade and I can say that the biggest expense we faced was providing health insurance for our employees. Those costs have spiraled out of control for the last several years, well beyond inflation rates, and I see that reflected in prices everywhere. We could never have raised our prices to cover the full expense so it took a bigger chunk of our bottom line every year. Most veterinarians are running a small business and have increasing employee expenses just like any other business.

    Comment by C.L.H. — March 8, 2014 @ 7:15 pm

  26. Hi. One if the considerations when owning a pet is the long term costs, which may include emergency veterinary care. It’s a huge commitment, not to be taken lightly. Having said that, vets are professionals, and spend a long time in university getting their degree. Yet we feeklthat because they treat our pets they should not charge us? A lots of costs are not within their control, especially lab costs. An MRI is an MRI – no matter who or what is receiving it. If you aren’t prepared to pay the vet, maybe you need to reconsider having a pet?

    Comment by Anita — March 11, 2014 @ 4:52 pm

  27. As a veterinary student and fellow pet owner, I have to agree with Anita.
    Like human doctors, veterinarians study for years (which are not free) acquiring certain skills and knowledge in the name of medicine. Vets are there for pet owners when they are worried about their animals and have no idea what their illness might be. We pay for our own health, why should paying for your pet’s health be any different?
    If you own a pet, it comes with nearly the same responsibilities as having a child – clean up after them, play with them, make sure they don’t eat the wrong things and, taking care of them when they are sick because they can’t do so themselves.
    Knowing this and getting a pet means you are accepting these responsibilities and if you are not willing to take them on, maybe a pet isn’t the best idea because yes, it is agreed that their care can be quite costly (I have an aunt who spent around $4,000 on an ACL surgery for her dog who had to be put down a year later anyways), but if you love your animal it’s worth the cost to see them happy and healthy.

    Comment by u14134897 — April 29, 2014 @ 2:06 am

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