Parasite prevention: Impact on veterinary pricing shows in our latest price index

Medmoney

How much is the cost of parasite prevention driving up pricing on wellness care for pets? Our updated Nationwide ® | Purdue Veterinary Price Index offers an alluring hint that seemingly every practitioner noted at our presentations at the AVMA Convention last week.

Those comments made us feel pretty pleased that we were already planning to examine the data in depth on flea/tick and heartworm medications as part of our next release, planned for the first quarter of 2016. But here’s that alluring hint, from the price index we released last week. (Download both the inaugural and 2014 update of the Nationwide ® | Purdue Veterinary Price Index, plus the methodology, in our studies and research section):

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In the question-and-answer period after the presentations, practitioners mentioned other price-drivers in the wellness-care segment as well, such as wholesale increases in costs of vaccines. Still, it’s important to note that even with medications for parasite prevention included, our data show that even wellness care isn’t quite keeping pace with the government estimate of pricing trends for all consumer goods and services. Veterinary care overall, as mentioned in this previous post, is in fact still falling — despite government sampling of a couple hundred veterinary practices. Here’s what our data, based on 6 million actual claims from Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), a Nationwide company, show for medical and well-care combined for dogs and for cats, compared with the government’s sampling:

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The drop in medical pricing for canine and feline medical care alone — without wellness care — is even more dramatic. While many veterinary practices may have raised the “retail” cost of many coded procedures after the recession, what pet-owners pay isn’t reflecting that, based on our examination of millions of transactions.

Our data is based on actual claims, the bottom-line amount consumers wrote a check for or put on their credit cards before seeking reimbursement from VPI.  I like to explain this as the difference between the sticker costs of a new car and the price a consumer actually drives away with: We all know veterinary practices adjust pricing and services all the time to lower costs to what pet-owners actually can and will pay.

I’m looking forward to the next release of our Nationwide ® | Purdue Veterinary Price Index, when we will dig deep into Nationwide/VPI data to take a closer look at how the cost of medications for parasite prevention — both those purchased at veterinary practices and those purchased elsewhere — is making wellness and preventive care difficult for many pet-owners.

These trends, of course,  are why we offer Everyday Care standalone wellness plans direct to pet-owners as well as veterinary practice-based customizable wellness plans (Our P&WS — Preventive &  Wellness Services — plans, pronounced “paws” with more information for veterinary practices here). As wages stay flat, many pet-owners will need — and even more will want — the ability to split the cost of wellness care into easy-to-handle monthly payments.  Our providing such aid help takes the burden off pet-owners as well as veterinary practices — and allows veterinarians to practice good medicine without worrying about a client’s inability to pay for the preventive care their pets need.