Obamacare May Bite You At The Vet’s Office

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Pet owners listen up: You may want to start saving more money for veterinarian care this year. The reason goes all the way back to Washington and an unintended consequence from medical reform.

Dog owner Lori Heiselman was surprised where her veterinarian posted a warning on Facebook.

The notice read: “Because medical equipment and supplies will be going up in cost, that extra expense will have to passed on to the customers.”

So Lori is already tightening her belt to pay for the increase in her dog’s care. Though she doesn’t like it, she’s willing to pay more for her pets.

“They’re very important. They’re members of the family,” said Heiselman.

Why the increase? Its part of a new 2.3-percent federal 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. Dr. Mike Hatcher is one of them. He explained, “I’m extremely concerned how this is going to be a hidden tax to our consumers that is going to be passed on.”

How does this work? Medical devices used only on animals are exempt. However, items including 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. Hatcher said, “Putting off an equipment purchase is something that can terribly affect our clients’ ability to have quality care.”

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. The organizations members are waiting to hear from more device makers.

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