What’s Behind the High Cost of Vet Care?

A recent article published in The Atlantic, Why Your Vet Bill Is So High, by Helaine Olen, discusses the growing presence of corporations and private-equity in veterinary medicine and its potential impact to the pet healthcare system — including the rising cost of vet care. Private equity firms have invested $51.6 billion into the veterinary sector from 2017 to 2023, and another $9.3 billion in the first four month of this year according to PitchBook.

Preliminary research by Emma Harris, the vice president of Vetster, a veterinary telehealth start-up, found significant differences in pricing between corporate and privately owned veterinary clinics in the same geographic region. Usually, the increases “occurred immediately after the sale to a private-equity-owned group,” according to The Atlantic.

In addition, one vet, who worked for an emergency hospital stated they raised prices by 20 percent in 2022 — others described mounting pressure to upsell customers following acquisition by private equity, according to conversations with writer, Helaine Olen.

UPDATED: MAY 10, 2024


Many Americans Can’t Afford Vet Care. Is a New Business Model to Blame? (5.9.24)

  • In recent years, a major new player has entered the vet business: private equity firms whose business model is to acquire companies, retool operations, and then flip them for a profit a few years later. PE firms are the biggest buyers of vet clinics, and now own nearly one-third, or about 29%, of the vet clinic marketplace — arrival of PE and big corporate firms has also given rise to an increase in upselling (practice of proposing additional procedures), a sore spot for nearly every vet, technician, and pet owner who spoke to Fortune.

CASE STUDY: Perceptions and Satisfaction of Veterinarians Working at Corporate vs. Privately Owned Hospitals (12.10.23)

  • “Veterinarians working in corporate practices reported feeling more pressure than those in private practice to generate revenue and see more clients per shift.”

Common Employee Complaints of Veterinary Consolidators

  • PRIORITIZE PROFITS: 6 price increases within 1 year and employee pay hasn’t changed. They don’t care about their employees, clients or patients. They are just investors. Corporate employees only visit practice when something is affecting them financially.

Common Perceptions of Corporate Practices

  • WHEN CORPORATE CONSOLIDATORS BUY PRACTICES, PRICES INCREASE: The higher prices drive revenue and enhances the value of the practice in order to resell to another veterinary consolidator for big profits.

Reddit: Why Your Vet Bill Is So High