Posted on June 20, 2011
The Cost of Caring
The news would have us believe that the recession is over and unemployment is declining, but I’ve got to tell you, I’ve not yet seen even a glimmer of this in my professional life. The majority of my clients remain hard pressed to pay for the diagnostic testing and care that would be ideal for their sick pets in spite of the fact that we lowered many of the fees at my hospital approximately one year ago. Fortunately, for most of my patients, I can offer multiple medical options rather than just one. For example, many folks these days choose the less expensive route of empirical therapy (providing treatment without certainty of what the underlying medical issue is) rather than performing diagnostic testing. Within the limitations dictated by cost constraints, I try to do what’s best for my patient while also trying to assuage the guilt that most clients in this situation experience. They love their pets dearly, but face the reality of having to settle for something that would not normally be their first choice.
When appropriate, I provide my client with a list of organizations that provide financial assistance for veterinary care costs. Trust me, these wonderful organizations have been deluged by requests over the last few years. Yet they still manage to pull through for some of my clients. Many provide financial help for any type of veterinary care while others set specific criteria. For example, they might provide assistance only for pets with cancer or only for service dogs. None of them provide urgent funding- invariably there is an application process. If you are interested in having a look at these wonderful organizations, I invite you to visit my website. Click on “Resources” found in the red horizontal main menu and then scroll down to “Financial Assistance for Veterinary Care.” A sure sign of the times is that this is the most frequently visited page on my website!
For those of you with young healthy animals (devoid of any preexisting medical conditions) I encourage you to consider purchasing a pet health insurance policy. For an annual premium cost of $300-$400 you will have the peace of mind of knowing that you will be reimbursed approximately 80% of future out of pocket veterinary expenses. The key is in choosing your insurance provider wisely. Some reimburse exactly as you would hope while others come up with all kinds of crazy loopholes. Visit my website for a list of questions to ask insurance providers that will help you separate the good guys from the bad. Click on “Resources” found in the red horizontal main menu and scroll down to “Pet Health Insurance.” My book Speaking for Spot provides a comprehensive resource for learning all you need to know about pet health insurance.
Have these tough economic times influenced how you provide medical care for your pets? If you feel comfortable sharing your story, I welcome hearing it. If you know of any organizations (not already on my list) that provide assistance for veterinary care, please give me a shout out. I would love to include them.
Best wishes for good health,
Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
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Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.