Veterinary Prices Increase Slightly but Remain Far Below Consumer Price Index

Study Counters U.S. Government Figures on Veterinary Inflation

Brea, Calif. (Jan 17, 2016) - America’s passion for pets has pushed the value of pet-related products and services up steadily year-over-year. However, according to the updated Nationwide® | Purdue Veterinary Price Index, the cost of taking a pet to the veterinarian remains a relative bargain, despite price increases in the first six months of 2015. This second update of the groundbreaking study shows veterinary pricing nearly flat from 2009-2015, countering the U.S. government’s Consumer Price Index (CPI), which holds veterinary inflation at 24 percent over the same period.

The Nationwide | Purdue Veterinary Price Index, produced by Nationwide in partnership with the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University, draws upon actual data from more than 6 million pet health insurance claims and 17 million treatments from the nation’s largest pet insurer. In contrast, the federal government’s veterinary information was based on self-reported pricing in hundreds of veterinary hospital interviewed during the same time period (2009-2015). From 2009 to mid-year 2015, veterinary prices increased a scant 0.1 percent according to the Nationwide | Purdue study, even with the inclusion of a 5.1 percent increase in the first six months of 2015.

“The second update of the groundbreaking study, done in partnership with the Purdue economists, shows that veterinary pricing has finally halted its downward slide,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, Chief Veterinary Officer for Nationwide. “Whether this is the expected correction many have anticipated, or a longer, steadier upward trend is something we’ll be watching for closely in the next update, which we’ll release this summer. It’s important to stress, however, that even with the increase in the first six months of 2015, veterinary pricing over the entire period of our study remains flat, and far below the rate of inflation for consumer goods and services overall. By sharing these trends, Nationwide hopes the information from our peerless proprietary claims data will help veterinarians and practice managers with a better understanding of companion animal veterinary pricing.”

The most significant finding is that despite the recent increase, prices of veterinary services (medical and preventive care) remained flat overall at 0.1 percent, with medical expenses down 3.3 percent over the entire study period. Well care treatments kept close pace with consumer inflation – up roughly 12 percent from 2009-2015.  

“The Nationwide | Purdue Veterinary Price Index reflects the larger trend toward preventive and wellness care, properly weighted. Since we’re working with millions of transactions from actual claims, we are able to build a more accurate picture of veterinary services and pricing,” said Kevin J. Mumford, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Economics at Purdue and one of the lead authors of the study. “Nationwide’s pet health insurance claims database is by far the largest in the industry, and offers the best opportunity for economists to develop an index that accurately depicts veterinary service pricing.”

An executive summary of the Nationwide | Purdue Veterinary Price Index is available at NationwideDVM.com, as are past releases of the study and a detailed explanation of the index’s methodology.  Semi-annual releases of the Veterinary Price Index going forward will continue to track national trends in pricing, and drill down into the data from millions of pet health insurance claims to examine additional trends in veterinary pricing. This most recent update was released at the North American Veterinary Community conference, with the next release scheduled for August 2016, at the convention of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 

About Nationwide pet insurance

With more than 550,000 insured pets, pet insurance from Nationwide, formerly known as Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), is the first and largest pet health insurance provider in the United States. Since 1982, Nationwide has helped provide pet owners with peace of mind and is committed to being the trusted choice of America’s pet lovers.

Nationwide plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Additionally, one in three Fortune 500 companies offers pet insurance from Nationwide as an employee benefit.

Insurance plans are offered and administered by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company in California and DVM Insurance Agency in all other states. Underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company (CA), Brea, CA, an A.M. Best A rated company (2013); National Casualty Company (all other states), Madison, WI, an A.M. Best A+ rated company (2014). Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle, and Nationwide Is On Your Side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. ©2016 Nationwide. Pet owners can find Nationwide pet insurance on Facebook or follow on Twitter. For more information about Nationwide pet insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit petinsurance.com


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