You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 6 a.m.

Veterinary medicine may be feeling the effects of 'Obamacare'

By Lorrie Shaw


Flickr photo by Army Medicine

Some pet owners find it challenging to afford veterinary care for their companion animals. Often, clinicians can find ways to help their clients not only make the best decisions to get an appropriate preventative care or treatment plan in place, but also to make it as affordable as possible.

Veterinarians may be finding that a little more difficult to do these days, and the reason might surprise you: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or as it's been referred to, 'Obamacare'.

How is this possible? A 2.3 percent excise tax has been imposed on certain medical devices, like anesthesia equipment, surgical tools and IV pumps, which are used on both humans and animals.

Medical devices used only on animals are exempt from the tax.

With the increased fees paid for necessary equipment, clinicians may find it necessary to increase their fees.

Dr. Mark Lutschaunig of the American Veterinary Medical Association notes, “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."

An unsuccessful effort was made to exclude vets from being impacted by the dual use tax.

One expert isn't so convinced that things will be as dire as they seem.

Veterinary consultant Gary Glassman, CPA, of Burzenski and Co. in New Haven, Conn. indicates that the additional cost of a piece of equipment may be marginal if based on a procedural basis.

“I do not believe it will eliminate the veterinarian’s decision to buy or not buy a needed piece of equipment to carry on the trade of providing required medical care,” Glassman says.

Read more about the tax on by clicking here.

Lorrie Shaw leads the pets section for and owner of Professional Pet Sitting. Shoot her an email, contact her at 734-904-7279 or follow her adventures on Twitter.



Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 5:08 p.m.

Honestly, this is a non issue when it comes to the cost of veterinary medicine. Very few pieces of durable equipment in veterinary clinics are human medical grade. Stop fear mongering the many benefits of the right for people to have access to health care.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 3:19 p.m.

So does this mean I can now enroll my two dogs into obamacare? Wow. If my taxes are paying for it, why not? Boy this obamacare is really missing people up.


Tue, Feb 26, 2013 : 3:02 p.m.

Your taxes are not paying for it. Reading Comprehension 101: The taxes are paid by the manufacturer. If they choose to pass that on to you then you pay it to them in the form of higher fees for their goods. Many will not be passing on the cost, some will. The new tax will enable millions of people to access basic health care. I see that as a good thing, maybe you don't. For one, as a person raised in the Christian faith, I see it as a community good that more people will gain access to health care, for we will be judged by the way we treat the least among us. Second, hopefully getting people access to basic care will reduce the over all health care expenditures in this country. Right now you ARE paying for those that don't pay, it is just a hidden fee on all of your medical bills and insurance premiums.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

The question is: does a 2.3% tax on SOME medical equipment result in higher bills at the vet? It would only effect those procedures that utilize instruments taxed. All other procedures would see no increase. That assumes that both the manufacturer and the vet pass on the 2.3% tax, which not all will do. I think this is much ado about not much. I think that this is a case of opponents of people getting access to health care fanning the flames of fear.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 1:16 p.m.

I've been very disappointed in the Affordable Care Act. It's my opinion that it's more important to discover the cause of and then remedy the extreme high cost of health care. This tax does neither and will result in higher costs. Were the legislators planning on using this tax to cover other costs? If so, that's very short-sighted and irresponsible. It's stuff like this that makes me want to curl up with all my pets for some extended fur therapy.