I was just at the veterinarian’s office with a puppy, getting shots for the pooch and generally checking his health, dealing with fleas, and looking into this issue and that. The doctor spent quite the time with me and the dog, gave us free stuff, administered various shots, and helped in many ways.
As we explored various options, he mentioned the price of each service along with the prices of alternatives. In fact, prices were part of his language, same as with any service provider. As we left, the bill came. It was $65 for the entire treatment that day, which struck me as completely reasonable. Most importantly, it was fully transparent and open: fee for service and fee for goods.
In other words, it worked the same as any other normal market. There is no co-pay, no crazy federal programs funding my right to a worm-free dog, no vast subsidies or penalties, no schemes for redistribution and equality. There is private pet health insurance available for catastrophic things, but not regular maintenance, and hardly anyone goes for this stuff in any case. It wouldn’t make any sense. No employer is on the hook to cough up premiums for pet health insurance.
And guess what? Googleing around shows me that pet medical care prices are not beyond the normal inflation rate. There is no crisis, no frenzied attempt to over-medicate, no push to restrict services because that’s what the insurer wants, no vast distortions in the market, no waiting lines, no hysterical attempt to immunize the doctor from lawsuits, or anything else. It was as normal and predictable as going to the grocery store.
It strikes me that we have a pretty good model here for reforming human health care. Just treat us all like animals and the whole system would be largely repaired.