Pet Health Insurance: Is it Worth the Cost?Published August 5, 2009
"To buy or not to buy. That is the question!" While it is highly unlikely that Hamlet asked this question about pet health insurance, it was one that rattled around in my brain for several years. Since most pet insurance programs don't cover pre-existing conditions, it seemed to me to be a waste of money, as many of our veterinary costs are due to Hubble's chronic illness. On the other hand, my nagging thought was; what if one of our cats became seriously ill with a condition that was not pre-existing? I had to carefully consider costs of diagnosis and treatment which could mount substantially. Those unexpected factors became the deal maker and ultimately "sold me" on purchasing a health insurance policies for our cats. Photo credit: www.pethealthcover.com A lot of research went into the selection of the plans we have in order to get the biggest "bang" for our bucks. Our plans cover annual wellness exams, which include dental work, vaccinations, blood and urine tests, coverage for major illness (no pre-existing conditions, of course) and any necessary surgery. Fortunately we purchased these plans when our cats were seven years old. Obtaining health coverage for older pets can be very expensive. There is a wide choice of coverage offered by most pet health insurance plans. Ranging from basic coverage, to plans that cover very comprehensive care, it is very important for buyers to carefully read what is included. My strongest suggestion for folks considering health insurance policies for their pets are to enroll them when they are young and in excellent health. The cost of plans is very reasonable early on, with slight adjustments as pets age. Believe me; it is much more cost effective than purchasing a policy when a pet has reached middle age and may already have minor health issues. Here are a few suggestions to help in selecting an appropriate policy: 1. The Internet is an excellent place to start a search. Begin your research by "Googling" Pet Health Insurance. Different levels of policy provided coverage are listed. Convenient online quotes are provided by most of the reputable companies. Determine if the provider pays a percentage of the bill or a fixed rate. Most policies cover accidents as well as illness, routine veterinary care and many require annual wellness exams, which may be completely covered, depending on the veterinarian's fee. Some policies even cover routine preventative dental cleanings. 2. Check if the cost of specialized care is included in the cost of the policy. A policy that covers cancer treatment will most likely be more expensive, but in the long run may save a lot of money. Ask about deductibles. Inquire about multi pet discounts as well. Some companies do cover pre-existing conditions, but the cost of these policies will be considerably higher. 3. Ask about age requirements as many companies will not insure older pets for health-related services, but only cover treatment for accidents. Many pet health insurance companies also cover exotic animals, such as birds, reptiles, rabbits, hamsters and other small mammals. Since over six million dogs and cats are annually diagnosed with cancer, with today's innovative treatments available, care can become quite costly. According to an article on eHow about pet health care, "Veterinary costs have doubled in the past ten years. $12 million is spent on pet health care annually in the U.S., with over 80 percent of that amount paying for unexpected illness or accident." What are your thoughts about Pet Health Insurance? Leave a comment and let's talk about it.