Health Insurance Plans for Your Pet

Health Insurance Plans for Your Pet

Many pet owners dread the news that Rover or Kitty are seriously ill or injured.  Too often, an anxious pet-lover is forced to make a fiscal decision when veterinary care is needed, and quite a few have had to endure the heartbreak of saying good-bye to a beloved pet that could be saved — but only at a cost prohibitive expense.  To many of us, a pet is a member of the family.  Treated sometimes like a child, the animal is companion, friend, confidante, and even dinner guest!  It is no surprise that the insurance industries realized the advantages of this widely untapped market, and fortunately for us pet lovers, health insurance for pets is no longer a wished for ideal, but a new reality!

There are some similarities to health insurance for humans; for example, be sure to read the fine print!  The most common misconception is the myth that all the distraught pet owner needs to do at the time of an emergency is to present an insurance card, and no money changes hands.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  As a matter of fact, most pet insurance plans will require the pet’s owner to make an upfront payment at the time of service.  Later on, a claim may be sent to the insurance company, and a reimbursement is made.

Many plans cost as little at $30 a month, but it is imperative that the pet owner understands the scope of coverage.  Minimum cost implies minimum coverage.  For example, one major pet health insurance plan will cover the same illnesses and emergencies at different plan levels, yet those who choose to purchase a minimum plan will receive less of a reimbursement than those who choose a more expensive plan.

In addition to the foregoing, pet insurance is not without its complications.  For example, benefits are limited when it comes to an initial diagnosis.  While your veterinarian may charge $150 to examine Rover’s bite wound after he had a run-in with the neighbor’s Doberman, the insurance plan will only cover about $92.  If Rover needs to undergo anesthesia, the insurance is willing to pay and extra $44, but will not pay any more.  In addition to the foregoing, if the bite wound is considered a secondary diagnosis, and Rover is instead treated for a puncture wound, then the coverage for the bite wound is reduced to only $65 in its entirety.  On the other hand, if you choose to purchase the higher level plan, then a similar situation will result in the reimbursement of $154 for the examination of the bite wound, $74 for anesthesia, and $108 in case of the bite wound’s being a secondary diagnosis.

Some pet owners don’t think that such coverage is worth the money, but they had best think again!  While a pet is young, veterinary visits are few and far between, but once Rover ages, new problems crop up.  Additionally, if Kitty begins to venture into the great outdoors, the risks and potential for injury increases.  Also, it is noteworthy that pet health insurance does not only cover the catastrophic injuries, but even the mundane dental cleanings, shots, heartworm medication, flea prevention, and more.

In closing, concerned pet owners owe it to their furry (or feathered) friends to ensure that adequate care will be available in case of an emergency.  Yet, they owe it to themselves to become well educated in the multifaceted aspects of pet insurance, and the exclusions and limitations. To this end, here are some suggestions:

1. Understand the deductible

The pet’s age and even pre-existing conditions may change the deductible the plan applies.  Additionally, a co-payment may be charged that can run as high as 20% of the veterinary fee.

2.  Understand the exclusions

Just like human insurance, pet insurance too has exclusions.  They may vary from company to company, and often deal with pre-existing conditions. Other exclusions may apply to dental care, vaccinations, etc.

3. Know the caps

The insurance plan will only pay a certain amount per covered incident.  Discuss hypothetical fees with your veterinarian and find out if these caps are realistic.  Additionally, are these caps applicable to a lifetime treatment, or to a per-occurrence charge?

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