(WXYZ) - Pet owners listen up: you may want to start saving more money for vet care this year!
Dog owner Lori Heiselman was surprised when her veterinarian posted a warning on Facebook which said:
Because medical equipment and supplies will be going up in cost, that extra expense will have to be passed on to the customers.
So Lori is already tightening her belt to pay for the increase in her dog’s care. Heiselman says,“They're very important. They're members of the family.”
Why the price increase? It’s part of a 2.3 % excise tax on certain medical devices that just went into effect.
The tax will help fund the patient protection and affordable care act, commonly known as Obamacare, intended for people, not pets.
Manufacturers pay the tax, but a recent survey found more than half plan to pass it along.
Some vets say they can’t afford it. Veterinarian Dr. Mike Hatcher says, “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 items like IV pumps, sterile scalpels and anesthesia equipment, which are medical devices that have a dual use, meaning they can be used on people and animals, will be taxed.
Veterinarian Mike Hatcher says higher prices could have animal owners holding off on medical care and vets postponing the purchase of new devices.
“Putting off an equipment purchase is something that can terribly effect our clients ability to have quality care,” says Hatcher.
The American Veterinary Medical Association represents 82,000 vets.
At this point, they don’t know how much this new tax will indirectly cost them. They’re waiting to hear from more device makers.
Dr. Mark Lutschaunig of AMVA 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 Affordable Care Act told us lawmakers tried to exclude vets from being impacted by the dual use medical devices tax, but it was too complicated.
Carol Smock founded Brown Dog Foundation, a charity that helps struggling pet owners pay for vet care. She’s afraid her organization is going to be overwhelmed with requests.
Smock says, “The impact this price increase is going to have on any of those families I think will be pretty devastating.”
Laurie says she worries about other families, too, but she’ll find the money for her four legged friends.
Heiselman says, “We'll just have to cut back somewhere else.”
We tried contacting the white house for a comment. They did not return our repeated requests.
Vets say 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.
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