Is American Pet Health Care (Also) Uniquely Inefficient?

In American Economic Review, Liran Einav and colleagues, including Atul Gupta, examine similarities between human and pet health care in the U.S.. The authors note similarities in rapid growth in spending in both industries, with wealthier families spending significantly more on both human and pet health. They also note a rapid increase in employment of health care providers in both industries, an increase in medical technology use, and a similar propensity for high spending at the end of life. While human and pet health care share a number of similarities, they also note contrasts in consumer spending – mainly, that pet health insurance is significantly less common than human health insurance. The authors use these findings to suggest that rising health care costs in the U.S. is not solely due to the prevalence of insurance and government involvement. The authors discuss how the similar growth patterns may suggest that technological change in human health care may have spillover effects on related sectors, including pet health care.