Is Vet Med a Scam?

Recently a New York cardiologist named Evan Levine made a video containing some disparaging remarks about the veterinary industry.  Specifically, he blasted the veterinary practice of marking up lab work that they send out to others to perform.  His point was that the vets charge separately for the office call, the blood draw and all the supplies used to do it, and they send the blood to an independent lab.  Then when they get the bill from the lab, they at least double it and hand it to you.  

News to Me

I didn’t know they did that, so I was outraged, but not surprised.  And the vet industry’s response shouldn’t have surprised me either, knowing how sensitive they are to criticism.  The venomous and melodramatic overreactions of the social media vets have flooded the internet.  The sheer volume of their fury made it difficult for me to even find the original video.  All that comes up are angry, sarcastic responses from veterinary influencers. 

Hypocrisy?

And the only defense most of them offer is that the critic is a medical practitioner.  They correctly point out that some things cardiologists do that require very little effort carry the same kind of markup as veterinary lab work.  I wonder what insult they would hurl if the criticism came from a non-medical professional.  It hardly makes a case for fairness to just point out how the human medical industry also cheats people. 

Their claims of hypocrisy may be valid, but the other common denominator from all these defenders is that it’s “standard practice.”  Is something automatically ok as long as it’s been done long enough to become customary?  I don’t think so.

If this practice of charging double for outsourced lab work is so justifiable and fair, they need to stick to defending it rather than attacking their critics.   

Is Government Regulation the Answer?   

Dr. Levine’s suggested “fix” for the problem is to have government step in like it did with human medicine.  I guess it depends on what he’s proposing, but I think all we have to do to show that that’s not a good idea is look at the debacle that’s been made of the human “health care” system. 

Double Standards

However, it does seem inevitable that the vet industry will be subject to more regulation if spiraling prices and resulting consumer outrage continue.  In another of Dr. Levine’s podcasts, he shares that it’s illegal for doctors to sell the drugs they prescribe like vets do.  He suspects the reason is because doctors should not be incentivized even more than they already are for prescribing drugs.

That begs the question:  Why is it legal for vets to do sell drugs?  What makes vets immune from this conflict of interests that keeps us from allowing doctors to sell drugs? 

Protect Yourself if You Do Have to Buy Drugs

You should know that there is legislation in place that requires vets to ALWAYS give you the option of buying a prescribed drug from a pharmacy rather than directly from them.  NEVER buy a drug from a vet. Pharmacies typically sell them much cheaper. According to the AVMA, it is federal law to offer you this option. It’s also on the law books in many states. But I wonder why it’s allowed at all, and I think Dr. Levine’s suggestion that something be done about it isn’t out of line.

The Smart Answer

I think charging double or more for drugs and lab work IS outrageous, but it doesn’t really affect me personally.  My solution is to simply keep my animals away from the sick pet industry.  Happily, I’ve been more successful at that than anyone I know.  It doesn’t matter if the entire veterinary industry proclaims that it’s ‘impossible’ to avoid sickness.  The truth is that sickness is simply the predictable consequence of biological needs not being met.  And meeting those needs keeps sickness away!  Health is our animals’ birthright, just like it is ours. 

I’ve not taken one of my dogs to a vet for a symptom in 22 years.  I also spend the majority of my time teaching others how to do likewise.  If you haven’t yet taken full responsibility for your animals’ health, I urge you to do so.  The alternative is getting very costly, in both money AND toxicity.   

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