What Should You Pay for Your Dog’s Knee Transplant?

Mike Klein, GPPF Forum Editor

What should you expect to pay for your dog’s knee replacement?  Should what you pay for your dog to have his knees fixed bear any relationship to fixing your own knees?   What determines the cost for knee replacements, whether the surgery is done here or overseas?

Writing this week on his national Health Care Policy blog, economist John Goodman asked, “Why is the price of a knee replacement for a dog — involving the same technology and the same medical skills that are needed for humans — less than 1/6th the price a typical health insurance company pays for human operations?”

Goodman also posed this question: “How is a Canadian able to come to the United States and get a knee replacement for less than half of what Americans are paying?”

And this question:  “How are Canadians getting knee replacements in the U.S. able to pay only a few thousand dollars more than medical tourists pay in India, Singapore and Thailand – places where the price is supposed to be a fraction of what we typically pay in this country?”

There is very little national dialogue about dog knee transplant costs but human health care is entirely another issue.  It fundamentally and deeply personally scares nearly everyone who might one day be forced to assume his or her own extreme care costs or those for others, their loved ones.  And it is well documented that human health care costs are eating the economy, whether that economy be the private sector economy or the public sector economy.

John Goodman, Founder, National Center for Policy Analysis

Goodman – whose National Center for Policy Analysis created the health savings account concept now used by millions – will participate in a medical malpractice reform panel and also deliver a keynote address at next week’s Georgia Public Policy Foundation legislative briefing.  The Friday, September 30 conference is open to the public at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.

Goodman’s address, “Free Our Health Care Now,” is expected to build on ideas the NCPA founder and president published soon after President Barack Obama issued a challenge to U.S. House Republicans:  “If you have a better idea, show it to me.”  Goodman responded with a 10-point proposal in a Wall Street Journal commentary that was republished on the NCPA site.

Goodman’s counter to Obama’s “show it to me”:  Make insurance affordable through tax relief, make health insurance portable, meet the needs of the chronically ill, allow doctors and patients to control costs, don’t cut Medicare, protect early retirees, inform consumers, eliminate junk lawsuits, stop health care fraud, and make medical breakthroughs accessible to patients.

Today the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — sometimes referred to in mass media by the moniker Obama Care – remains under constant scrutiny from conservatives.  Twenty-eight states went to federal court to argue the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional and their case will most likely be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court sometime next year.

Incidentally, if you are still wondering about the comparative costs for dog and human knee transplant surgery, Goodman noted in this week’s blog that while humans generally spend the first couple days recovering in the hospital or in a nearby hotel, dogs usually recover in cages. We are not aware of any new proposed policy for humans to also recover in cages.

Click here for more information and to register for the Friday, September 30 conference.

Other Conference Keynote Speakers:

Bernie Marcus


Bernie Marcus is co-founder of The Home Depot.  Along with his wife Billi, Marcus funded development and construction of the Georgia Aquarium which is one of the world’s leading aquarium research facilities.  The Marcus Institute in Atlanta provides comprehensive services to children and adolescents with developmental disabilities.  The Marcus Foundation also funded a state-of-the-art bio-terrorism unit at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Marcus will discuss “How to Make Georgia a Leader in Entrepreneurship and Innovation.”

Michael Horn


Michael Horn is co-founder and executive director of education at the Innosight Institute in Mountain View, California, south of San Francisco.  Clayton M. Christensen, Horn and Curtis W. Johnson are co-authors of “Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns.”  Christensen, Horn and Jason Hwang co-founded the Innosight Institute four years ago to focus on health care and education policy research and writing.  Horn will discuss “The Promise of Online Learning.”

Lee Hicks


Lee Hicks is founder and chief executive officer of Atlanta-based C PORT Solutions which specializes in high end communications and video conference products for several industries including health care.  Clients include the Walt Disney Company, Proctor and Gamble, Toyota, Boeing, IBM, AT&T, Medtronic and Med Assets.  This year the Atlanta-based consumer giant Newell Rubbermaid and C PORT announced their partnership in a new health care division.  Hicks will discuss “Keeping Innovative Startup Companies and Jobs in Georgia.”

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