If you think pet medicine is just rabies shots and ringworm treatments, you should think again. Nowadays, veterinarians can do almost anything your doctor can do. There are veterinary ophthalmologists, oncologists, dentists, even dieticians. You name it, it's pretty much the same in veterinary medicine today as it is in human medicine. However...
Better pet care means higher costs, and that can sometimes present a problem.
If you're like most people, your dog or cat (or other companion-animal) is a beloved member of your family. If he becomes injured, he may require surgery to survive. That could run anywhere between $2000-$2500. Most people, during this tough economy, simply can't afford that at one time.
This leaves you with a heart-wrenching decision to make. It seems callous to think about pinching pennies when your pet's life may be at stake. More and more Americans are taking out pet insurance on their animals. The reason - costs.
The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that dog owners will spend an average of $479 on vet bills this year. Compare this with $132 back in 1991. Veterinary Medicine's huge advances haven't come cheap.
Vet bills can easily top $1000 in a matter of hours for accidents and injuries. Total medical expenses in excess of $5000 aren't that unusual, either.
People buy Pet Insurance for the same reason they buy their own health insurance. An unexpected medical problem could cost a large sum of money.
As a concept, Pet Insurance is a good thing, but you have to read the fine print. Below are some examples of coverage available today from various insurers.
Routine Care Coverage: This is your regular preventive veterinary care that is designed to catch and prevent serious medical problems. In general this means:
Annual physical exams
Heart worm detection & treatment
Prescription medication for flea control
General, comprehensive health screen
Some Pet Insurance providers offer veterinary HMO/PPO plans that cover these issues. Others offer more coverage that includes professional consultation, de worming, fecal tests, and microchip identification.
Pet Major Medical: These cover procedures that would cost significantly more (as in, $1000s of dollars) without Pet Insurance:
Accidents and Serious Illnesses
MRI, CAT Scans, and X-rays
Removal of ingested foreign objects
Snake bite treatments
Most Pet Insurance policies offer these coverages. They are designed to protect you, the pet owner, from having to decide between your pet's life or a financial hardship. As always, check with the Pet Insurance provider of your choice to make sure of these coverages.
Cancer: Dogs and cats get cancer that often can be treated, just like humans. However, chemotherapy treatment can cost $1000s of dollars for a pet. These treatments include..
post-treatment medications and nutritional supplements
Cancer claims are the fastest growing cost to Pet Insurance companies. As always, check with your provider.
What is NOT Covered: Like most insurers, Pet Insurance companies have exclusions designed to keep premiums low. Some of these include:
elective & cosmetic procedures
congenital & hereditary defects (i.e., hip displaysia)
any pre-exsiting conditions that were present prior to purchasing Pet Insurance.
The above list is not meant to be an exhaustive list. This list and article are meant to arm the average pet owner with information regarding the benefits of Pet Insurance.
Pet insurance, on average, costs about 1/15 of what it would cost to insure a human. Several factors determine the premium pet owners can expect to pay for pet insurance. The biggest factors are..
The age of the pet. Veterinary expenses are the highest during the last two years of a pet's life. If the insurance company's actuarial tables say that your pet is nearing the end of his/her natural life, expect the premiums to be higher.
The type of animal: Because dogs and cats are the most popular pets worldwide, their coverages tend to be average. Birds, oddly enough, tend to have slightly lower premiums. Horses weigh in at the high end. In general, the more expensive the animal, the more expensive the premiums tend to be.
Thankfully, premiums tend not be based on breed - in the eyes of a pet insurance company, a dog is pretty much a dog.
The Plan Selected: Like most human health insurance, pet insurance plans become more costly as coverage benefits increase. Check the fine print of the provider of your choice for pet insurance. And, as always, compare providers to make sure you get the best deal.