For all of the debate and conversation about Obamacare’s potential impact on Americans’ wallets — and the economy on the whole — few likely saw coming the controversial health care law’s effect on family pets.

In an apparent “unintended consequence,” as CBS News calls it, the cost of medical equipment in veterinarian offices is going up, with some pet doctors reportedly already announcing that they plan to pass the burden on to consumers.

The reason? Obamacare imposes a new tax that will raise the cost of much-needed supplies.

Obamacare May Cause Shocking Rise in Your Pets Health Care Bills | 2.3 Percent Federal Excise Tax

Credit: AP

Many vets may encounter an increase in medical devices and equipment as a result of a provision in the health care law that places a 2.3 percent federal excise tax on various health technologies. This tax, implemented to help fund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (i.e. Obamacare), was never intended to impact pets.

CBS explains why the tax issue is having an impact on veterinarians:

How does this work? Medical devices used only on animals are exempt. However, items including IV pumps, sterile scalpels and anesthesia equipment, which are medical devices that have a dual use, meaning they can be used on people and animals, will be taxed. [...]

The American Veterinary Medical Association represents 82,000 vets. At this point, they don’t know how much this new tax will indirectly cost them. The organizations members are waiting to hear from more device makers.

WFOR-TV has more:

In Dec. 2012, the conservative Heritage Foundation was already sounding the alarm on this issue, writing that pet costs would likely increase for consumers. At the time, the organization wrote the following on its blog, “The Foundry”:

The device tax is expected to raise costs for consumers. A recent survey of 181 manufacturers found that a 52.5 percent majority plan to “pass along some or all of the increased cost [of the tax] to our consumers.” Among North American manufacturers, the portion who said they would raise prices was an even higher 58 percent.

“Across the board there is bigger inclination among firms to raise prices and pass on costs to customers as a way to deal with the US tax,” the survey found.

Pet owners already spend more than $12 billion on veterinary care annually. Obamacare may make it even more expensive to care for your pet.

It’s currently unclear how much, exactly, the new tax will cost vets. But, considering these revelations, it’s likely many pet owners will be preparing to brace themselves for additional health care expenses.

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