How Much Is Too Much?: Cutting-Edge Veterinary Medicine Does Not Come Cheap
Most people tell me they’ll do anything to keep Fluffy alive. They tell me they don’t need an estimate. They say, "Whatever it is I’ll pay it." I hand them an estimate anyway. Next thing I know, they’re looking for a less costly alternative. Usually, I find one for them. It’s always at the expense of their pet’s safety or comfort, but it’s usually a reasonable alternative given that not all of us can afford premium quality healthcare. (As a single mom, I understand this reality better than most of my well-heeled clients for whom Fluffy just wasn’t considered when they planned the budget.)
Most people just don’t understand how far veterinary healthcare has come. When I hand them an estimate, it’s state-of-the-art care I hope I’m offering. We do ultrasound-guided biopsies, CAT scans, MRIs, myelograms, root canals, and more (not all are available on-site in our dinky, little, strip mall space but all can be arranged).
To be sure, most people can’t afford these procedures—not for their pets, and, without health insurance, not for themselves. Our services and their expenses are therefore viewed through this jaundiced lens when considering their value:
But I don’t even pay that much for my healthcare!
I have a one word, two-syllable reply for that one: B---s---.
Add it up. Or don’t—you’ll depress yourself. Human healthcare expenses are huge!
But that’s another post.
Nonetheless, best-quality vet care is expensive, indeed. One MRI: $1000 to $1500. Knee surgery for a common large breed malady (cruciate ligament rupture): $1500 to $3000—per knee. Bladder stone surgery $750 to $1500. Ouch!
At some point all of us (including vets) feel the pinch (or punch) of pet healthcare expenses. Some of us, regrettably, have to euthanize our pets because we can’t afford our pet`s total hip replacement when life without it becomes too painful. Double-ouch!
Still, it’s wonderful, at least, that we have choices. As long as some of us can pay for these services, should they not be devised, researched, and made available to the general public? Of course. And, IMHO, once pet insurance becomes more mainstream, getting cutting edge care might not be such an impossibility for even the lowest-income pet owners among us.