The Price of Innovation

Two reasons, presumably: technological change and rising income. As we get wealthier, we spend more of our income on former luxuries, like keeping our pets healthy–nineteenth century veterinary care for sick cats consisted of a sack and some stones to weight it down with. And improvements in health care technology are giving us more things to spend that money on. With the help of my family, I bought my dog five extra years of life with an MRI that diagnosed his slipped disk; without it, we’d have had to put him to sleep when he was three. Worth it? I think so. But in 1950, I couldn’t have afforded it, even if it had been available.

via The Price of Innovation – Megan McArdle.

So am I the only one who has noticed a huge cultural shift when it comes to pets over the last few decades?

You didn’t used to get major surgery for Fido, no matter how much you loved him.¬† It just wasn’t done, unless you were some nutty reclusive billionaire. I don’t think it was just the cost either … it was cultural.

Spending on Fido’s health has increased as it has become more and more culturally acceptable to do that.

I just don’t see how you can ignore this major cultural shift, that has nothing to do with the technological options per se (which have increased steadily for both human and animal). This is truly apples and oranges.

(Meanwhile, the cultural trend for humans has if anything gone the opposite way. We are more willing to forgo – or withhold – treatment and let humans die.)

Anyway, I’ve read articles about how you can get a quick MRI for your dog in Canada, while humans wait months. Which also undercuts what this piece is trying to argue.


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