America Should Model Its Health Care Market After Pet Care

If we had a free market in health care, you could expect to see prices for full blown cancer treatment, including radiation and chemo, for less than $10,000. How do I know this? Because that’s what it costs to treat your dog.

Veterinary care, while still heavily regulated by the commissars of the state, is still essentially a free market service. The state doesn’t subsidize it, which means people have to pay out of pocket to treat their animals. Animal health insurance, which is not heavily regulated or subsidized, is cheaper than your cell phone bill. For example, pet health insurance costs about $100 a month or less for total coverage with a $100 annual deductible and a 10% co-pay. Those prices are unheard of for human coverage!  There is absolutely no reason why human medical care should cost what it does when a dog can get better care for the a tenth of the cost! Anyone know what the cost of human cancer treatment is running these days? $70,000 per case, as of 2010.

Consider that your dog is able to get instant treatment, no wait times, full access to experimental drugs, and all the pampering he deserves for the price of a nice two week vacation to the Bahamas.  Meanwhile, you are paying through your nose for basic coverage! Does that sound right to you? Do you think that more regulations and subsidies will bring down health care costs?

The state is spending nearly a trillion dollars a year on health care subsidies, and that’s just the federal programs. Has all this spending served to bring down costs, increase efficiency, improve service and help people live better lives? – Of course not. Which naturally means we must exponentially increase spending to the billionth power to save ourselves. Only Ben Bernanke can save us from ourselves!

Even if there were no programs to help the poor, isn’t it reasonable to think that the poorest among us would be capable of coming up with $10,000 to treat a dying family member? Don’t you think that charities would help cover the cost for those of us who are simply too poor to make the payment?

The poor in America today are driving around in cars and watching big screen TVs. I feel confident that even a McDonald’s employee making minimum wage could afford health insurance if he was able to buy it tax free on the open market for $100 a month. And if he couldn’t, someone would be there to help him out. Unlike our present system that hands out money to anyone and their brother, private charities would ensure that only those most in need would get donor’s cash.

Our present health care system isn’t an overpriced disaster because insurance companies are greedy. It is an overpriced disaster because the state is using violence to control the market and subsidize the medical industry. It is interesting to note that PolicyMic lists the “Health Care” category under the “Politics” topic listing. Would it strike you as odd if you saw technology listed under politics on a news site? Everyone knows that the health care industry in America isn’t a free market, even if they don’t consciously admit it to themselves.

Listen to Dr. Jane M. Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), speak at the 2009 Darden Health Care Conference. Orient lays down the reasons for our present unhinged medical costs, along with presenting some solutions that would solve our problems.


This article originally appeared on PolicyMic.

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  • Ljshoreslokal03

    People laugh when I tell them I have had health insurance on my 2 boxers since they were just puppies yet I had no health insurance for myself. When it costs $28.46 p/mo for each dog through VPI for my dogs how can I pass that up? What person wouldn’t purchase health insurance for themselves at that price or even a little more?

    My dogs also get hugs and kisses and doggy treats when they go to the vet, I don’t get anything even close to that!

  • Joel Mcbeth

    I think this is how it starts.  Pet health insurance is a relatively new thing.  Right now pet health care is relatively cheap because normal people have to be able to afford it because most people don’t have pet health insurance.  Just wait until pet insurance gets to the prevalence of human health insurance.

    What I predict will happen is the pet insurance companies will start to dictate the terms, maybe they will only pay the vets 90% of the cost for a procedure.  They vets will either have to decide to take a cut or lose a large amount of their customers that use that insurance.  Then it will go down from there. 

    Then vets will have to increase their rates, not because the cost of the procedure actually increases, just so 90% of what they now charge will equal to how much the procedure cost before the insurance companies stopped paying them the full amount.

    Then the price of medical procedures for pets will be so expensive that no one will be able to afford them without pet insurance giving the insurance companies even more power to dictate the terms.

    I’m a big supporter of free markets but I am unsure how a free market will stop this from happening.

    • “I’m a big supporter of free markets but I am unsure how a free market will stop this from happening.”

      Then you need to read more or think harder about the problem until the answer becomes obvious to you.

      Here’s a hint, no one is forcing anyone to buy pet health insurance, and no one is subsidizing pet insurers or vets. No one is forcing anyone to do anything here.

  • Not a big fan of pet insurance … the system is inherently flawed. There’s a reason Consumer Reports does not recommend getting a policy. I’d recommend a vet discount network..

    • Yeah, I didn’t write the article to advocate the purchase of pet insurance.

      I’m using pet insurance to make a point about human healthcare.  

      • Just saw this – yeah, and I really appreciated the article. But the fact is that only the most crazed animal lover has no cap on what they’ll pay to save their pet. Vets cannot charge as much as human hospitals do for the simple reason that people will not pay that. So the pet insurance system is paying out a lot less, with more or less the same risk factors that humans have. So the odds are the same but the stakes are not. Of course it’s a better industry.

        • The same is true of human healthcare.  People will not pay outrageous prices for certain services, even if those services mean an extended life.   They will not pay because they might want to save that money for their kids, or give it to charity, or do any number of things other than try to live a bit longer.

          There is no difference.  If prices are too high, people will not pay them. 

          • From personal experience I can tell you that you’re wrong. My siblings and I spent close to $120,000 to keep our mom alive in the last stages of cancer. She was 67 when she died; 64 when she was first diagnosed.
            No one thought we were crazy. Every other family at the hospital was doing the same thing, unless they had insurance – which my mom didn’t.
            Find me someone (sane) who’d do that for Fido.