Cat health insurance and the pet tax credit. Would you buy insurance on your pet if you got a tax deduction for your cat's care?
In July of 2009, US Representative Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich) proposed HR 3501, "Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years" otherwise known as the H.A.P.P.Y Act. This would amend the US Internal Revenue Code to include a pet tax credit, up to $3,500 per year, for cat care, including veterinary bills.
Some, however, are not so happy about the HAPPY Act. Given the current state of the global economy, and the buzz about health care reform in the US, some people are mocking the idea that a pet could get better health care than that pet's owner.
Some are suggesting that we have bigger issues to deal with and this seems trivial. But does the HAPPY Act have some merit?
In August of 2009, Doggy TV posted the below video of an interview with Rep. McCotter:
With respect to cat's specifically, the Doggy TV Youtube blurb says:
"The HAPPY Act may be welcome news to cat owners. The ASPCA estimates yearly expenses for one cat at nearly $700, and if the cat is a senior, has any health problems, or suffers an injury, the cost could be much higher."
The Huffington Post published this article about it in September, 2009:
I'd like to know how this might relate to the purchase of cat health insurance and pet care, and whether or not the purchase of a health insurance policy for your pet actually results in better care (or not).
Also of interest is how a pet tax credit fits into the bigger picture of animal welfare (specifically cats), and whether or not passage of this bill will decrease the number of cats given up to shelters, or increase the number of pets adopted.
No one I've asked personally has ever purchased cat health insurance. Pet owners, on the other hand, often spend huge amounts of money and turn their lives upside down so their animals can live better.
No matter what your position on the other problems facing the world, I think this subject warrants some attention.
I'd like to throw out some information for you, and then get you to weigh in on the topic. I'm working on a list of issues that I think this pet tax credit bill brings up. I'll publish those issues in a future article.
In the meantime, have a look at just a few of the issues here, and please enter your comments on this below.
Some info, and some of the many questions this issue raises:
On the bigger scale, what this comes down to, in large part, is public policy as it relates to animal welfare. It also relates to the economy (will the tax break help the people it's designed to help? Will it result in more pet adoptions? Will it result in better health care for pets?)
Cat owners are sometimes lacking in diligence when it comes to taking their cats to the vet. If there's a tax deduction available, will more cat guardians purchase pet insurance?
Will a tax break improve those numbers? Will cats get improved medical care?
The AVMA reported that only 64 percent of pet house cats saw a veterinarian in 2006.
This certainly seems plausible, and it isn't good. In my own experience with talking with cat owners who also have dogs, it's not uncommon for them to take their dog to the vet every year, but neglect their cat's health care.
They seem to think that flea medication is all they need. To address this issue, the CATalyst Council was formed.
The CATalyst Council is a non-profit organization that was formed by a number of corporations and animal health and welfare organizations. Their membership includes the American Association of Feline Practicioners, and SAWA (Society of Animal Welfare Administrators).
Is the CATalyst Council just a lobbyist organization disguised as a non-profit concerned about cat health and care?
From looking at some of the comments I've seen around the web about this tax credit, some people are implying that the HAPPY Act is less about the welfare of cats and other pets, and more about promoting a special interest. That special interest, namely, is the pet care industry, including veterinarians.
Before I tell you what I personally think about this topic (in another article coming soon), I'll leave you with these questions below and ask you to add your comments please.
Do you think this bill will help or hurt the economy?
If your cat care costs were tax deductible, would it help you financially?
Would you be able to spend more money on other items if some of your pet care costs were tax deductible?
Would you be willing to buy cat health insurance or pet insurance plans for other pets if the costs were tax deductible?
Do you think this tax break serves the special interest of the pet care industry, namely veterinarians and pet insurance companies, or does it truly promote the welfare of cats and help their owners?
If your veterinary bills were tax deductible, would you spend more money on other items for your cat (e.g. higher quality food, cat furniture, more toys)?
Please add your comments below.
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