Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Pet Health Care Spending Looks Very Human

Americans love their pets. They love them so much that spending on pet health care mirrors spending on human health care. "Many features of the American pet health care sector are, qualitatively, remarkably similar to those of the American human health care sector," reports a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper. Here are the similarities...

  • Spending on pet and human health care surged between 1996 and 2012. Human spending grew 50 percent and pet spending grew 60 percent during those years, after adjusting for inflation. 
  • For both types of health care, spending rises with household income. 
  • The number of human health care providers (physicians) and pet health care providers (veterinarians) soared between 1996 and 2013—a 40 percent increase in physicians and a near doubling in veterinarians.
  • At the end of life, spending spikes for both pets and humans.

These similarities suggest, say the researchers, that the rapidly rising cost of human health care may have less to do with health insurance and government involvement (as some theorize) and more to do with "deeper primitives"—such as our desire to keep alive those we love, regardless of the cost.

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, Is American Pet Health Care (Also) Uniquely Inefficient?, Working Paper 22669 ($5)

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