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Why Your Vet Bill Is So High: Corporations & Private Equity

Updated: Apr 29

This blog article is an excerpt from a recent piece by Helaine Olen at The Atlantic (link at the bottom).


Oasis Animal Hospital & Emergency Center remains one of the few independently owned veterinary practices in the Upstate.
In fact, we are the only locally owned & operated Urgent Care & ER.
We pride ourselves on keeping our prices as affordable as possible, and the hard earned money you spend caring for your pet, in the local community. As well as employing over 40 people and their families who live and work here in Greenville, SC and the surrounding area.





 

Corporations and private-equity funds have been rolling up smaller chains and previously independent practices. Many across the Upstate of SC have sold in the past 4 years.


As household pets have risen in status—from mere animals to bona fide family members—so, too, has owners’ willingness to spend money to ensure their well-being. Big-money investors have noticed.


According to data provided by PitchBook, private equity poured $51.6 billion into the veterinary sector from 2017 to 2023, and another $9.3 billion in the first four months of this year, seemingly convinced that it had discovered a foolproof investment. Industry cheerleaders pointed to surveys showing that people would go into debt to keep their four-legged friends healthy. The field was viewed as “low-risk, high-reward,” as a 2022 report issued by Capstone Partners put it, singling out the industry for its higher-than-average rate of return on investment.

In the United States, corporations and private-equity funds have been rolling up smaller chains and previously independent practices. Mars Inc., of Skittles and Snickers fame, is, oddly, the largest owner of stand-alone veterinary clinics in the United States, operating more than 2,000 practices under the names Banfield, VCA, and BluePearl. JAB Holding Company, the owner of National Veterinary Associates’ 1,000-plus hospitals (not to mention Panera and Espresso House), also holds multiple pet-insurance lines in its portfolio. Shore Capital Partners, which owns several human health-care companies, controls Mission Veterinary Partners and Southern Veterinary Partners.


As a result, your local vet may well be directed by a multinational shop that views caring for your fur baby as a healthy component of a diversified revenue stream. Veterinary-industry insiders now estimate that 25 to 30 percent of practices in the United States are under large corporate umbrellas, up from 8 percent a little more than a decade ago.


For specialty clinics (Specialty, ER, Urgent Care), the number is closer to three out of four.


Don't get us wrong, a lot of these corporate groups employ amazing doctors, nurses, and support staff that provide exceptional care, well beyond what a lot of smaller practices can. Corporations have also brought a lot of investment into the field in the way of advanced diagnostics, team education, and benefits, but many privately owned clinics are catching up to these differences.


However, the big issue with these corporate practices is that the decisions are usually not made locally, and the profits rarely stay local.


There is a new local Urgent Care coming to Taylors in a few months. ReadyVets will be locally owned by a Greenville native, and if you're in that area, we encourage you to check them out if your pet is in need of care!


Oasis remains the only locally owned Vet Urgent Care & Emergency Clinic out of 5 ER clinics in Greenville, and one of the few Family Wellness Practice clinics remaining in private hands as well.

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