It’s a question born from ignorance. All the best questions are.
“Why does my pet’s care cost so much more than my own?”
Simple answer: It doesn’t. It doesn’t cost anywhere near as much.
First, the odds of your personal medical care involving payments from insurance are pretty high. Your cat probably doesn’t have insurance. So we add in your insurance premium for fair comparison.
Now, let’s take a hypothetical approach. You’re driving along with your 10-year-old cat in the seat beside you. Suddenly a honey badger runs out into the road and you wreck your car.
Strangely enough, you and your cat suffer identical injuries — bumps and bruises and a broken leg. You’re both taken to your respective emergency care facilities. You go through triage, examination, stabilization and hospitalization. You receive equivalent surgeries to stabilize the broken bone and are lucky to avoid the need for extensive physical therapy. Three months later, you both are good as new.
For fairness, we’ll assume you both lack insurance and just pay the penalty come tax time. That penalty is about to become miniscule relative to the cost of treatment.
The rough cost for your cat for this particular hypothetical situation would be about $1,500. The rough cost for you? More than $50,000.
Why? Well, human care is somewhat driven by big companies that help control prices. And economics tells us supply and demand drive price.
Staying alive is a strong demand for most people. Sadly, it is routine for price to decide life or death in veterinary medicine.
Then throw in convenience. You probably saw an ER doctor, at least one doctor on rotations in the hospital, maybe a cardiologist, a surgeon, an anesthesiologist and then your regular physician.
Your cat probably saw one veterinarian, who knows the cat’s name and if she likes mice or laser pointers.
So the answer is: Veterinary care is ridiculously cheaper than your care. Even if you both had insurance, you’ll pay 10 times the cost for the same issue.
Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.