Obamacare’s Latest Critic: Your Pet

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Adam Sternin / cavan images

Add another group to the list of those facing higher costs under Obamacare — pets.

That’s right — cats, dogs, birds, and any family pet who sees the vet frequently will tally up higher bills for their owners. That’s because of the 2.3% medical device tax added this year to everything from artificial hips to defibrillators ensure that device manufacturers played their part in subsidizing the cost of expanding health care coverage to those who would be newly covered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The added fees, the tax’s advocates argued, would be offset by the greater volume of patients now eligible for reimbursement for the devices.

The tax applies to equipment and machinery as well, including ultrasound and X-ray devices, and veterinarians are charged the tax since they use the same machines, which are designed for people, on pets. But vets aren’t benefiting from the influx of new insured patients, they argue, since the ACA doesn’t extend to four-legged or feathered beneficiaries, and therefore should be exempt from the tax.

In an interview with NPR, Dr. Douglas Aspros, a veterinarian at Pound Ridge Veterinary Center in Pound Ridge, New York and past president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, says the veterinarian community is suffering unfairly from the device tax. “We are not getting any more patients from the Affordable Care Act, and we should not be pulled into this,” he says.

The American Veterinary Medical Association, which represents over 84,000 vets, is teaming up with businesses and device makers to repeal the tax. Aspros told NPR that the tax can be a burden when non-pet specific devices cost upwards of $30,000. To make up for the added expense, he said some veterinarians are passing on the cost to their patients, which is contributing to a drop in visits from pet owners.

3 comments
Malorkis
Malorkis

They shouldn't have vets pay for this-doesn't even apply to them.  If they were getting a kickback, i.e. more patients, better care for animals, then I would say, "OK."  It's not fair and they should repeal this part of the tax.  Tired of humans thinking WE are the only ones who matter on this planet.

ChristineBongiorno
ChristineBongiorno

You'll be suffering a LOT more too because it also impacts the economic situation of EVERY American. When healthcare costs rise and people have to make a choice, you can bet that WE as veterinarians will see yet another drop in income and a lot more "declines recommended workup." This law is about control and about bigger government. THE BIG picture is: higher costs, less care and access for humans and a HUGE hit to businesses large and small. Trust me, the medical device tax is only a small part of this rotten pie. 

Nebdvm83
Nebdvm83

At 2.3% this adds so little to the cost of the equipment it would be easy to recoup that if you add it to what you are going to charge for its use. And if you can't use it enough to pay that then you should not even consider buying it. It's a stupid argument. And as a small business owner who has offered health insurance to its employees for years, it was a welcome relief that our premiums still but rose but not nearly as much as in years past other states have reported decreases in their premiums. I welcome the Affordable Care Act