Updated on September 22, 2015
The World of Pet Health Insurance
Veterinary health insurance has been around for a good long time, but only recently has it been gaining in popularity. Growth within the industry was initially stymied by inadequate, “slow-pay” and “no-pay” reimbursement policies.
Pet health insurance companies have come a long way, and are now attracting the attention of more and more pet lovers, particularly those who want to take advantage of high-end diagnostic and therapeutic options that might otherwise be unaffordable.
Perhaps you’ve thought about pet insurance, but haven’t committed one way or another because the policies are confusing, or you truly don’t know whether or not purchasing insurance makes good financial sense. Know that you are not alone in your uncertainty. To help with your understanding, I encourage you to read, “The Changing Landscape of Pet Health Insurance.”
Is pet insurance right for you?
Deciding whether or not to purchase a medical insurance policy for your pet requires serious consideration. And, if you decide to go ahead, figuring out which insurance company is the best fit can be daunting. Although it is considered to be far less necessary than human medical insurance, should your pet develop a chronic disease or suffer some sort of catastrophe, such as being hit by a car, pet insurance might be your best, if not your only way of financing his or her care.
Without question, quality veterinary care is expensive, and as the cost of living continues to increase, so too will the cost of doing business with your veterinarian.
When making your decision about pet health insurance, I encourage you to consider your answers to the following three questions:
What are your current financial resources?
If your pet suffered a serious accident or sudden significant illness, would you be able to finance his or her recovery? Think about the types of procedures and associated expenses you might encounter: surgery, ultrasound examination, hospitalization with or without intensive care, consultation with specialists, rehabilitation therapy, and the list goes on. Could you absorb such costs should the need arise tomorrow? How do these numbers compare to the amount needed to purchase a year’s worth of medical insurance for your dog or cat?
Your six-month-old Golden Retriever may be the picture of health now, but how about several years down the road when he becomes a “golden oldie?” Purchasing and maintaining pet insurance when your dog is young may make good sense. This way, you can rest assured there will be no exclusions for pre-existing conditions, and you may have the option of locking in a lower premium rate.
Are you inclined to take the “do everything possible approach” when it comes to taking care of your pet?
The price tag for aggressive veterinary care is considerably higher than for more conservative approaches. Currently the price tag for surgical repair of a torn cruciate ligament (a common knee injury in larger dog breeds) runs between $2,000 and $4,000, depending on the type of surgery performed. The average fee for an MRI scan, including general anesthesia, is $2,000 to $3,000. Treatment of diabetes can cost several thousand dollars over an animal’s lifetime. If you are inclined to take the “do everything possible approach,” a pet health insurance policy is likely to be a wise investment.
What best suits your peace of mind?
Will you sleep better at night knowing that, no matter what happens, insurance will allow you to pay for excellent, top notch care for your pet? Or, will you lie awake fearing that you are throwing money away on yet one more insurance policy that may never be needed?
I hope this information has helped you determine whether or not purchasing a pet health insurance policy makes sense for you and your pets. To learn more about this topic and figure out which insurance provider is the best fit, I encourage you to visit the North American Pet Health Insurance Association live link to and Pet Insurance Review.
Do you have a health insurance policy for your pet? If so, how did you choose which provider to use?
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
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
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 and Your Dog’s Best Health. 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 and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.