On Your Side
Pet owners may want to start saving more money for vet care this year
Dog owner Lori Heiselman was surprised when her vet posted a warning on Facebook. It read: "Medical 'equipment and supplies' will be 'going up in cost', that 'extra expense will have to be passed on to the customers.'"
"They're very important. They're members of the family," Lori explains.
Lori is already tightening her belt to pay the extra cost of her dog's care. Prices are up because of a new 2.3% federal excise tax on certain medical devices. It just went into effect to help fund Obamacare.
Manufacturers pay the tax, you end up footing the bill. A recent survey found more than half plan to pass the extra cost along, and some vets like Mike Hatcher say they can't afford it. "I'm extremely concerned how this is going to be a hidden tax to our consumers that is, that is going to be passed on."
Medical devices used only on animals are exempt, but there are many devices that can be used on people or animals--Things like IV pumps, sterile scalpels and anesthesia equipment. Dr. Hatcher worries animal owners will delay care due to higher prices, and vets will postpone the purchase of new devices.
Dr. Mark Lutschaunig is with the American Veterinary Medical Association. He says, "Congress never intended for this tax to impact veterinarian medicine and unfortunately it has, and I think that's very unfortunate that veterinarian medicine now is subsidizing human health care."
Congressional sources who worked on the act claim lawmakers tried to exclude vets, but it just got too complicated.
Laurie says she worries about other families, too, but she'll find the money for her four legged friends. "We'll just have to cut back somewhere else."
The White House did not return repeated requests for comment. If your pet is sick or acting strangely, don't delay care, that could just cause medical problems to get worse. If you're concerned with the cost of vet care, be sure and talk to your vet about payment plans or other financial options.