PuppyCare for All?


Courtesy Peter Suderman

Following up on the study last week that found no significant physical health improvements associated with Medicaid coverage, The Transom's Ben Domenech suggests a four-legged alternative: 

The primary focus of the Oregon study was on blood pressure and cardiovascular health. But there are a host of other things, things that have nothing to do with government health care, that have positive impacts on blood pressure, cardiovascular health, and depression. One example from today's New York Times: owning a dog.  "The nation's largest cardiovascular health organization has a new message for Americans: Owning a dog may protect you from heart disease. The unusual message was contained in a scientific statement published on Thursday by the American Heart Association, which convened a panel of experts to review years of data on the cardiovascular benefits of owning a pet. The group concluded that owning a dog, in particular, was probably associated with a reduced risk of heart disease." In fact, just interacting with a dog has been shown to lower your blood pressure.  And pet ownership generally shows all sorts of positive effects when it comes to warding off depression. 

This is more than a little glib, and the observational research noted by The New York Times doesn't come close to matching the rigor of the Oregon study. But given the arguments now being made by Medicaid's defenders — that the Oregon study showed that Medicaid substantially reduced positive screenings for depression, insulated beneficiaries from catastrophic health expenses, and resulted in far higher self-reported health status — it's worth asking: What else could achieve those same effects? If Medicaid coverage is good because it cheers people up, and keeps them from losing everything paying for ultra expensive treatments, then a puppy, perhaps paired with a catastrophic health plan, might come close to achieving a similar effect. 

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  1. Does the puppy come with meds for allergies, and/or pre-housebroken?

  2. A tip for Mr. McSuderman: From a marketing standpoint, “Puppycare for all” is a slogan unlikely to placate the Medicare Mullahs who control America.

    1. How about “Abortions for some, tiny American flags for others”?

  3. So surely the puppy costs should be covered by a health plan? Purchase price, vet bills, plastic surgery

    1. Mutts don’t need plastic surgery, they ahve the benefits of natural selection.

      Purebreeds on the other hand are so inbred they should be euthenized for their own wellbeing.

  4. The problem with the analogy between vet care and people care is that it is legal to let your dog die of a disease and it is not to let your child die. There is a whole culture of people out there, and admittedly I am probably one of them, who have the means and willingness to spend sizable amounts of money on their pet’s healthcare. There are a lot of other people who don’t. People who just either let their pet suffer or them down when they get too sick. And that is fine. But it skews the demographic of who is seeing vets.

    The only people who see vets are people who can afford to pay for the services. So vets rarely get stuck with unpaid bills that they have to pass along to their paying customers. Hospitals in contrast do. They can’t turn away sick people. And no one decides to just put their kid or their loved one down because the cost of that appendectomy is just too high.

    Given that, it is hardly surprising that vet care would be relatively cheaper than people care. But that is not the result of some miracle of the market and people directly paying for care. That is a result of fact that vet care, when it comes right down to it, is an optional good that those who can’t afford forgo and people care is not.

    1. If a rich person can do something, then we have to make sure poor people can do the same. Paid for by the middle class, which can’t do it and shouldn’t be subsidized to do it.

      Is that clear?

      1. The problem with health care is that it is a middle ground. One the one hand, society is not going to tolerate just letting people with treatable conditions die because they don’t have the money for treatment. Yeah, I know, private charities and such. But that dog won’t hunt with the public. On the other hand, the idea that some street person is going to be entitled to the same health care as a millionaire is absurd and can never be attained and to the extent you try to obtain it you end up just taking from the millionaire for no good purpose.

    2. Vets also have the advantage of being allowed to make sure their customers have the means to pay before providing care.

      I think you are right overall. But I suspect that prices for veterinary care are also lower in part because they are much more market driven.

      1. Mar-ket? Isn’t that some university?

  5. Try to imagine a dog specified-by/provided-by a national health care initiative after all left-leaning interest groups have an opportunity to influence the regulations.

    No AKC pups for anyone. Disfunctional mutts for everyone at $1k per pup.

  6. Sounds like a very good plan to me dude.

        1. That is disturbing.

  7. Nice pooch, Suderman.

  8. I like it. Government funded dogs for people with medical marijuana cards ensures that there is always a dog to shoot.

  9. I’m waiting for my very own Hypnotoad.

  10. A dog that pays your medical bills whenever you command, or a cat that can perform corrective procedures on you when it feels like it. Which is better?

    1. The dog. There is no way I am trusting my cat with a knife and me under anesthesia.

  11. I fucking hate puppies. All they do is bark and bite and poop on the floor. Can I just get a dog that’s 5 years old or so and is already well trained?

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