Filed under: Health
There’s been a lot of attention paid to this chart from AEI’s Andrew Biggs, which conservative-leaning bloggers (Megan McArdle, Tyler Cowen, Jim Manzi, Arnold Kling, Greg Mankiw) argue show that the reason for rising health care spending is that people have more money to spend on health care:
Conor Clarke wrote a good riposte on this issue. I just have two points to add. First: Do we believe that rising expenditures on veterinary care for pets largely reflect a major increase in quality of life and longevity for pets? Or do we believe they largely reflect vets’ increasing success in convincing pet owners to pay for expensive treatments which they and their pets don’t need? I would tend to think that most expensive health care for poodles falls into the latter category.
I am, of course, not a poodle. But then again — here’s the second point — neither are the people who are making purchasing decisions about health care for poodles. In this sense, one of the points made by conservatives about the above chart — that unlike human health insurance, the vet care market is not complicated by third-party payers (i.e. insurance companies) — is quite wrong. In fact, veterinary care is always paid for by third parties (i.e. pet owners). No poodle has ever had to assess whether the cost of a hip replacement was worth the benefit.
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