By sandra bell
CHANGES IN VETRINARIAN COSTS AND PET HEALTH INSURANCE
Veterinary medicine has changed dramatically in the past few years and many pet owners wonder if they should buy pet health insurance for Fido and Fluffy.
These days Spot can get about the same type of health car as can his owner. Available to him are cancer treatments, pacemakers, EKGs, joints replacement, ultrasound and on and on. Ten years ago we would automatically euthanize Spot for conditions that can now be treated. But we are in a quandary: can we and do we want to spend the thousands of dollars it may take to treat Fido's cancer. As we hold his paw through the night, we wonder if we should have taken out pet health insurance.
WHAT IS PET HEALTH INSURANCE?
Pet health insurance is much like people insurance although it has only been around for about twenty years and although only from one to two percent of all pets are insured. Pet health insurance has deductible, co-payments, limitations, and premiums. Some plans cover routine exams and vaccinations. Costs are based on species, age, pre-existing conditions, and even lifestyle. For example, are Spot and his owner couch potatoes or do they get out daily for a brisk walk? Is Fluffy strictly an indoor cat or does she spend most of her time in the dangerous out of doors? Premiums range from $11 to $30 per month and the average deductible is about $100. Most plans pay approximately 80% of costs once the deductible has been met. There are many, many pet health insurance plans listed on the Internet but be beware. Over the past 20 years pet health insurance pet health insurance plans have come and gone with only one, Veterinary Pet Insurance, lasting. If you do buy a plan, be very careful and make sure that your plan is one that your vet accepts.
WILL PET HEALTH INSURANCE BE GOOD FOR FIDO AND ALSO FOR MY FINANCIAL HEALTH?
Consumer Reports took Lucky, an imaginary Labrador Retriever, through eleven years of life. Among nine common ills were a cut, a torn ligament, an ear infection and a broken leg. Of five pet health insurance companies compared, not one was cheaper over the eleven years span of time than if the owner had paid the bills out of pocket. When they added up premiums, deductibles, co-payments, un-reimbursed costs and exclusions, the costs were sometimes thousands of dollars more with pet health insurance.
Lucky then got an imaginary hip replacement and still some of the plans didn't save any money. Consumer Reports recommends against buying pet health insurance and instead suggests setting up a special savings account for Lucky.