Menckens Ghost

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Dogs Have Better Medical Care than Humans

Dogs Have Better Medical Care than Humans

April 5, 2018

By Mencken's Ghost

When my wife and I recently moved to Tucson from Phoenix, we had to find a new family doctor.  Then, shortly after the move, we got a new puppy—which we named Cato—and had to find a veterinarian. 

There was a marked contrast between the two experiences.

In short, it's better to be a dog in America, at least in terms of medical care.

There are four veterinary clinics within two miles of our house.  Choosing among them was quite different from choosing a doctor.

As a first step, we dropped in without an appointment at the veterinary clinics and spoke with whomever was at the front desk.  We asked how many veterinarians were in the practice, how much experience they had with Cato's breed, and what their prices were for shots, neutering, and other services.

You ask your physician for a price list, right?

At the same time, we observed the friendliness of the staff, the cleanliness of the facilities, and whether customers were languishing in the waiting room.

After that, we asked dog owners in the neighborhood for referrals.  Then, after narrowing the field to one clinic, we made an appointment to meet with one of the vets at the clinic.  The purpose of this preliminary visit was to see if he was punctual, whether we liked him, how he interacted with Cato, and what he recommended for initial shots and examinations and ongoing care. 

The vet was amazing:  outgoing, personable, patient, and thorough.  He explained his philosophy of care, where it varied from national standards, what dog diseases were prevalent in Tucson, and where he agreed or disagreed with the protocols recommended by vaccine companies.  He also answered our questions about pet food, treats, and socialization for Cato. 

Although the examining room had the latest computer technology and was networked with the rest of the clinic, the vet did not type on a laptop while speaking with us, as is the case nowadays for physicians, who have to obey federal diktats and cumbersome formats for electronic medical records.

We remarked to the vet that his prices for vaccines and neutering were higher than a discount clinic in town.  He agreed and explained why.

You have a similar conversation with your doctor about his competitors, right?

The veterinary assistants and other staff were just as professional and polite as the vet. They explained how the computer system worked and how we'd be receiving reminders of appointments, the timetable for us to give Cato heartworm medicine and other meds, and general pointers on care.

There was not a backroom full of billing clerks at the vet clinic, unlike the situation in doctors' offices, where billing clerks outnumber the medical staff.  Because insurance companies were not involved with the transaction at the vet clinic, there were no copays or deductibles.  Payment for the full amount was made by credit card. 

Equally refreshing, we didn't have to complete one of those ubiquitous and useless privacy forms that the government, in its infinite stupidity, requires of humans who seek medical care.  Of course, there is nothing private about human medical care, as treatment information is sent to insurance companies and/or the government. 

Strangely, Facebook and Google mine the personal data of Americans and make billions of dollars by selling the data to advertisers, without any government-required privacy forms being exchanged between them and their users.

Several days after the visit to the vet clinic, we received a thank-you card in the postal mail signed by the staff, with a note inside saying how much they enjoyed meeting us and Cato.

 You get thank-you cards from your doctor, right?

Even in lower-income parts of town there is an abundance of veterinarian clinics, animal hospitals, kennels, and pet stores, which sell expensive pet supplies and all-natural pet food and treats.  No processed fast-food for pets.  No fat-laden Domino's Pizza.  No Cheetos.  It's interesting that low-income pet owners somehow find a way to pay the costs of pet ownership without resorting to socialized pet care.

I have to end here now.  Cato wants me to scratch his belly.

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