Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard cub (7 mos old) - Cape May County Zoo

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pet Insurance

Top 10 pet medical conditions

1.   Ear Infection
1.    Lower Urinary Tract Disease
1.    Bowel obstruction
2.   Skin Allergy
2.    Gastritis/Vomiting
2.    Gastritis/Vomiting
3.   Skin Infection/Hot Spots
3.    Chronic Renal Failure
3.    Bladder Infection
4.   Gastritis/Vomiting
4.    Hyperthyroidism
4.    Upper Respiratory Infection
5.   Enteritis/Diarrhea
5.    Diabetes
5.    Eye Infection
6.   Arthritis
6.    Enteritis/Diarrhea
6.    Cancerous Tumor Requiring Surgery
7.   Bladder Infection
7.    Skin Allergy
7.    Arthritis
8.   Soft Tissue Trauma
8.    Periodontitis/Dental Disease
8.    Skin Inflammation
9.   Non-cancerous Tumor
9.    Ear Infection
9.    Skin Abscess or Pressure Ulcer
10.  Hypothyroidism
10.   Upper Respiratory Infection
10.    Inflammation of Hair Follicles
Source: Veterinary Pet Insurance Co., 2010 data

One thing more pet owners are savvy about is the availability of insurance for their pet's health care.  As in the human market, there are people who work on determining the risks and costs associated with your pet, depending on your locale and other factors. This is discussed in a recent article I read called Pet Illnesses Can Be Predicted.

Some veterinary hospitals, including the one I am currently employed at, make it part of the education of every new puppy and kitten owner. The best time to purchase a policy is when they are young and healthy.  However, most companies will still insure pets that are young adults to a bit older (cut off can be 8-10yrs on average). Many also will not cover pre-existing conditions (diabetes, hip dysplasia). 

In general, these policies are not very expensive.  According to this article on the Basics of Pet Insurance most policies range from $10-100 a month but the majority are well below $50. 

There are a number of well known veterinary insurance companies out there. Some have been around a while ( VPI)  while others are fairly new (Embrace). There are also plans available through the ASPCA and others. I always encourage my clients to do the research. I do not know the ins/outs and costs of each company or plan. I can say this much though:

1. Be prepared to pay no matter who your insurance company is or what plan you have. These companies will reimburse you. You need to pay the veterinarian at the time of service. 

2. There are plans to cover just serious/unexpected things like traumas and cancer or plans to cover wellness visits/vaccines/heartworm prevention as well as plans that cover it all! 

3. Some companies (and I won't name names) have become increasingly difficult to get reimbursements from due to "us" not using the "correct terminology" that they want.  Yeah, they are getting just like some of the human insurance companies.

Example: We had a dog come in to have a growth evaluated. The growth was suspicious for a type of malignant tumor. However, the only way to know for sure is to have it removed and sent to the pathologist. The insurance company didn't want to reimburse her for surgery because we said "suspect x type growth." Well, yeah! SUSPECT. We had to wait for it come back to know too! We even had to change what we call some of our lab tests to make sure this insurance company would pay it. 

4. They will NOT tell us how to practice medicine however - what medicine to use, to do or not do surgery, etc. If they go down that path, rest assured, us fiercely independent animal docs will not let it happen. 

5. There are some really great, more people oriented companies out there. Ask your vet about what their experiences are. I am mentioning this because I had no idea either until I started to hear from clients about issues they were having and also going to a few meetings where I got to talk to other companies as well. Some of these companies have a much better rate of reimbursement too.

6. Pet insurance is still no substitute for just using common sense and preventative veterinary care, including regular wellness visits and age appropriate diagnostics. Those things alone can save you money and prolong your best friend's life. 

1 comment:

  1. Due to the availability of extensive options for pet insurance, pet owners do not know which insurance policy is most suitable for their pets. Besides above tips, you can also take advices and recommendations from your trusted veterinarians. They can explain to you everything with their experience so that you may take decision easily.