Before I move on to a few other points, I want to stress something that is very important, one more time. Insurance masquerades as a savior to the people; an outside force that sweeps into the medical field to defend you from the injustice of simple economics. Somehow magically, the insurance companies hypnotize the masses with the comforting illusion that they can lower the expenses within the entire system, once you choose to sign up for their plan. This is what I always hear people implying or saying directly, that “Pet insurance saves me money.” The 2006 study by Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) that I quoted in Part 1 of this article, clearly stands in direct opposition to this perceived benefit of insurance. Again, those clients with pet insurance, 1) schedule 40 % more appointments, 2) spend double on veterinary care over the lifetime of their pet, and 3) have a 41% higher stop-treatment dollar amount for care. Thus, the truth is exposed. It makes me think of a person who gets monthly coupons from some big corporation (clothing, etc.,), that save them 10-20-30% on a given monthly purchase. So, the customer proceeds to make a monthly purchase that really wasn’t required or needed, believing they are somehow saving money each time. At the end of the year, the customer has made 11 or 12 purchases that they would have never made without getting the enticing coupons. Lets reverse the percentage and look at the reality a different way. The client has spent 70-80-90% of the normal purchase price for item(s) over an entire year that they did not need. Unfortunately, many of those people, still believe they saved money. This is exactly the same type of hypnosis that occurs with pet insurance.
CareCredit is a program that I believe works in a very similar manner. CareCredit can be found in many veterinary hospitals, dentist offices, and optometrist offices. Again, it trumpets the savior card…here to help the customer….here to help you when the unexpected occurs. It is essentially a financing company that can serve as a middle man between the veterinarian (etc.,) and the client, when the client cannot afford a service, product or procedure. Sounds great, right? How about the truth instead? Per a CareCredit advertisement to veterinarians, a 4 year study, involving 500 veterinary practices, found that clients using CareCredit, “invested” (love the term) 47% more in their pets health. It further stated that the hospitals accepting CareCredit, generated 19% more medical revenue and 17.2% more total revenue. I guess you can call that a good thing. I would call it deceptive entrapment and a huge enemy of balanced synergistic veterinary medicine.
The true reasons that veterinarians push or offer these programs should have already become very obvious to you, and it has nothing…nothing…nada to do with helping you or your pet. It has everything to do with increasing their bottom dollar and revenue stream. And, you could argue why not? Why not allow the people to deceive themselves and over-spend on medical care? After all, these programs are “helping” people, right? Bullshit…I have to say it…have to…clear, unmitigated bullshit…deep, up to your chin, smelly bullshit. These programs help no one in the long run, no one except the CareCredit corporation and pet insurance corporations, and everyone else will suffer as a result. 1) I have already shown that client cost increases. 2) Veterinarians (etc.,) initially love the programs because for a limited time these programs will grease their pockets, but eventually, the fore mentioned corporations will start throwing their weight around against the veterinarians, excluding the DVMs that they cannot control or “get better pricing from.” This removes choice from the system. 3) Insurance companies will also start imposing exclusions to their policies for “certain breeds” or “genetic predisposition” or “pre-existing conditions.” 4) The system will become extremely more complicated, because what was once a two-party system (you and the DVM), will morph into required communication through, what I predict will be a less-than-interested middle man (corporate representative), and that will also create much more “processing” work for the veterinary hospital. 5) Veterinarians will become less and less concerned with “normal or appropriate” budgetary concerns and ethics that should always be considered. They will become more apathetic in the system because they will have less control and less profit. So, why not prescribe more tests and procedures that really don’t need to be performed and extend medical care in patients that should be euthanized, because it will generate more money for them, and if no one else cares, why should they.
We have seen all of this before. The writing is on the wall and it has been. This is exactly what happened with human medicine, and make no mistake, it will happen in veterinary medicine. There is no way to stop the process. The corporate forces are too strong and good at what they do, and the people are too sheepish to listen and wake up. I included corporate veterinary hospitals, and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) also as specific contributors to this problem. Corporate vet hospitals, play all the games I have previously discussed (misdirection/manipulation of the public), usually more than their smaller brothers. centralized profit and business becomes the over-riding goal instead of medicine leading the way. The AVMA has been selling DVMs out for some time. The shortened version of their link to this ugly truth is, as always, money. The AVMA has unofficially joined forces with corporate medicine and insurance companies to create a trifecta, that will work together in the future, producing multi-conglomerate entities working in unison to squeeze money from the public. The independent, small business, wildcard DVM, capable of free thinking and action, will be eliminated. This squeeze money of the future will benefit the “good old boy veterinarian shareholders”, currently jockeying behind the scenes, to control as much of it as possible. A greater hierarchy of masters or godfathers or puppeteers will emerge to control the entire “veterinary medicine conglomerate” for lack of a better term. I believe all of these events will steer us directly in the wrong direction and veterinary medicine will suffer greatly as a result, but nonetheless, people will still love their pet insurance and believe it to be a precious thing.
Jeff Cribb DVM