It's hard to believe that as a pet owner for many years that I am just now thinking about getting pet health insurance. Before I get all embarrassed about that confession (or drag you down with shared guilt) apparently, we are not alone. Even though 65% of American households own a dog or a cat, only 1% have insurance. In the UK, however, 25% of pets are insured. In fact, Brits are more likely to have pet insurance than for their human children!
Now that I am a single parent, the thought of an unexpected expense is pretty scary. I don't want to have to be put in the position of choosing to go into deep debt or putting a very ill pet down. And I have been faced with such a choice. In the past, when I'd had a large vet bill, I was encouraged by my now ex that putting the puppy down for a broken leg was preferable. Instead, I was offered a vet payment loan through an independent company, and took that route to save Anna. I found the interest rate to be very difficult to deal with. So I don't want to do that again!
A Growing IndustryCourtesy of ManhattenCatSpecialist.
Americans increasingly view their pets as family members and pet health insurance is a reflection of that attitude. Baby boomers, in particular, are boosting the pet insurance industry. Their children have left the home and often their offspring are delaying in supplying them with grandchildren, which leaves their pets as the recipients of their doting attentions.
Veterinary offices are responding by becoming more specialized in designer treatments that would rival a human hospital to meet the demand of pet parents wanting similar treatments that would be available to people.Â Pet oncology, hip replacements, extensive lab work, and other previously unheard of procedures are becoming commonplace, and veterinary practices are being stretched thin to try to stay current with available pet care technologies. Often these advanced procedures come with a hefty price tag, with inflation for general pet care increasing to keep the practice afloat.
So it's easy to see why pet insurance is particularly valuable in modern times, especially if basic procedures are going to go up to accommodate designer care. With policies ranging from $10 to $100 a month, depending on the breadth of coverage, there is a policy for everyone.
Pet Insurance Versus Human InsurancePet insurance is different from human insurance in several ways. First, only health insurance is available for pets, not life. There are no networks in which you must have your pet treated. Choose your vet and your pet insurance will reimburse covered expenses. Humans don't generally use a reimbursement program as they do with pet care. Pet insurance is simply a way to soften the expenses incurred for pet care, not necessarily as a way of saving money.
So Why Not Just Have a Savings Account?Savings accounts are a great idea, but often we are not disciplined enough to put money in them or to leave it alone if other needs come up. They are also not terribly helpful if a cat or dog is young as the $200 you have had time to save may not add up to much towards an expensive procedure.
Not All Plans are AlikeDo your research carefully! It is important to know what is covered and which treatments are excluded. Cheaper policies might not cover cancer care. It's also important to know your dog. Is your dog accident prone? Is their breed noted for particular medical conditions? Is your pet elderly? These things affect your decision. Often pets over 9 are less likely to be covered, and pets with preexisting conditions are not covered either. So with those facts, I now know my dogs would be ineligible since they are older, but my cats Cali and Ms. Boo would be great candidates, though being indoor cats, they have fewer risks for medical problems.
Some employers are beginning to offer pet insurance as part of their employee packages. I believe Ms. Boo may launch another campaign towards our HR department to make this happen! In the meantime, here is a thorough resource we will be exploring that has helpful insights into the various companies: Pet Insurance University.
Readers, Ring In!Photo by Mr Thinktank
Have you had any experiences with pet insurance that our readers and I might like to hear about? What are the things that are important to you when considering your pet's health?
Featured "Cone of Shame" photo by Aidras.
Sadly, we received news of Gracey's passing during the BlogPaws Conference. Her story and her mission to save her big cat cousins will carry on.Continue Reading >