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Pet-icare for All
The government should cover the cost of pet healthcare. You know it makes sense.
Here is the situation as it presently exists: tons of people have pets. They cherish them, they love them, they consider them to be one of the most important things in their lives. And they spend a hell of a lot of money keeping them healthy.
So my suggestion is this: just like the state should pay for human healthcare, it should also pay for pet healthcare. Or, as my friend Ben (who I promised I would publicly credit with inventing this term) dubbed it, Pet-icare for All.
Before you say, “this is a nuts idea!” just hear me out.
More U.S. households than ever—over 70 percent—own a pet, and people fork over a ton of cash to care for them. According to the American Pet Product Association, Americans spent $123 billion on pet-related costs in 2021. $34.3 billion of that was for “vet care & product sales.” Some studies have shown that spending on pet care is actually outstripping that of human healthcare.
As you might imagine, this level of spending puts millions and millions of people into debt. A 2020 survey found that 47 percent of pet owners had gone into debt for their pets. Pet insurance exists, but the vast majority of people don’t have it, and it’s often patchy and scammy in the way that insurance for humans is. (Pet insurance never covers pre-existing conditions, for instance.)
Being put in that sort of financial position leads to some excruciating decisions about what to protect more: your pet or your finances. As The Outline (RIP) reported in 2020, there’s even a term for the choice many families take: economic euthanasia. Extremely grim stuff! And, just like with all other kinds of healthcare, there’s a thriving animal care crowdfunding scene on GoFundMe.
So: more people than ever are spending more money than ever on beloved members of their families. This sucks.
Enter Pet-icare for All. We need to get our brightest minds to come up with a way to fold pet healthcare into the broader Medicare for All system we know we need to build. There’s definitely money for it. We spend approximately 500 gajillion dollars every second on stupid and evil weaponry, so why can’t we put some of that money towards the health of creatures that actually bring joy to our lives, rather than death and destruction? Make Jeff Bezos funnel some of his dumb space money into Pet-icare for All. Make Elon Musk stop drilling useless tunnels and hand that cash over to our pets. Someone can figure this out!
And for all you politicians out there who I know read Discourse Blog: it is my view as a trusted member of the chattering class that the presidential candidate who promises to help people pay for their pet healthcare will win 49 states in the next election. Does any politician really want to be in the “Just Let Fido Die” camp? They’d be run out of town!
So there you have it: Pet-icare for All. When AOC runs on this in 2032, remember where you heard it first.