Human medical care advances all the time. We all know that medical costs keep climbing and most people couldn’t afford advanced medical care without insurance. As human medicine advances, so does veterinary medicine. Our dogs can now receive many of the same kinds of treatments that humans receive.
Dogs are given MRIs, they receive long-term treatment for cancer, they can have prosthetic limbs, they are treated for diabetes. The list goes on and on. As these treatments become available, it raises the question of who can afford them? Can all dog owners afford to have blood transfusions for their dog? Can all dog owners afford to have a hip replacement for their arthritic dog? Maybe the answer is pet insurance.
Pet owners are expected to spend $12.2 billion on veterinary care this year. That’s a lot of money -- a 10 percent increase from just 2008. And yet, owners who have pet insurance are still in the minority. There are approximately 75 million pet dogs in the U.S. and 88 million pet cats but, according to the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues, only about 850,000 pets have insurance policies.
Pet health insurance is a growing field, however. As veterinary costs rise, and as vets offer more and more advanced treatments, many pet owners find it convenient to use pet insurance. Is it right for you and your pet?
If you are a pet owner who believes in saving your pet at any cost, then you may want to consider getting pet insurance. You should remember, however, that sometimes, even with the most advanced care, that you may be buying your dog only a few more months of life. There are also quality of life issues to consider in some cases, something that can’t usually be considered with humans.
If you are considering pet insurance there are some things you should be aware of.
- Deductibles can be large. There may also be co-pays and caps that limit how much the company will pay per year.
- Many pre-existing problems and some hereditary problems, including hip dysplasia, may be excluded.
- Some companies won’t cover older animals.
If you do decide that you think pet insurance is a good idea, you should shop around with different companies. Rates can vary widely and so can deductibles. You should also ask about multiple pet discounts. And, find out if your employer offers pet insurance as a benefit. Some companies do.
Find out if the pet insurer is registered with your state. They should be.
Read the policies to see what is excluded. Find a policy that’s a good fit for your pet.
Finally, you don’t have to go with pet insurance in order to pay for your pet’s vet care. Many people with pets opt to set aside a savings account for vet care. If you put in $10-20 per week, you will soon have a good savings account in case of a serious emergency. This is often a better alternative than buying pet insurance because there won’t be any exclusions when your pet needs an emergency treatment. In the long run, this can save you money over buying a pet insurance policy.