Why Obamacare Might Raise Your Vet Bills

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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, has been making headlines for all the changes it’s bringing to health care access and expenses for Americans. But did you know that a tax within the Act might also affect your veterinary bills?

The Medical Device Tax

A 2.3% tax on medical devices was folded into the law in order to draw funds from medical device manufacturers and their buyers — doctors and hospitals. However, plenty of medical devices designed to treat humans are, in fact, used in vet offices as well; ultrasound machines, laboratory equipment, and X-ray equipment are often purchased by veterinarians for use in their practices. As vets will have to pay more for their devices, they may pass that expense on to their clients.

“We are not getting any more patients from the Affordable Care Act, and we should not be pulled into this,” said Dr. Douglas Aspros, veterinarian and former president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. He adds that the 2.3% tax “may sound trivial but if a device costs $30,000 to $40,000, it is not a trivial expense.”

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How Pet Parents Can Cope

Not everyone believes the tax will cause prices to skyrocket. Veterinary consultant Gary Glassman says the extra cost should be considered over the life of the equipment. Considering an example of a $18,000 machine, “If the equipment has a five-year life, the yearly cost would be $80. If the equipment is used 100 times during the year, the incremental cost increase per procedure is 80 cents.” Which could cause the procedure to go up about $1.50 per client, Glassman says.

So it’s important to find a vet who’s looking at the long term, and won’t boost costs the moment they’re faced with paying the tax.

You can also consider a pet health benefits plan, which can give members discounts on everything from vet visits to prescriptions.

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