Pet Health Insurance Reform: Transparency NeededPublished August 2, 2010
It's no secret that over the years the price of human health insurance has been sky-rocketing. And at the most crucial time, when people become seriously ill, health insurance coverage is often dropped, policies are denied due to pre-existing conditions, or lifetime caps prove insufficient. While the recently passed Health Insurance Reform Bill is far from perfect, it most certainly will help folks to purchase health insurance at a reasonable cost, far more easily. Additionally, with greater transparency required from insurance companies, folks will more intelligently be able to purchase policies that are appropriate and cost-effective. Perhaps inspired by increasing need for transparency in human health insurance, Assemblyman Dave Jones, (D), Sacramento, California - who is running for state insurance commissioner this coming November - announced the passage of his Assembly Bill 2411 by the California State Insurance Committee, in June. The bill would place pet insurance under the authority of the state Department of Insurance as a separate line of insurance which would also require pet health insurance companies to post on their websites a complete schedule of benefits offered and to clarify both the benefits and limitations included in any policy. A 2009-2010 survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association, revealed that pet ownership has risen 56% from 1998, with 62% of U.S. households owning a least one pet. Additionally, veterinary costs have risen over 70% since 2000, reaching an astronomical cost of $13 billion already this year. In response to the rising costs of pet care along with expensive life-saving advances in veterinary treatment, a growing number of pet owners are considering investing in pet health insurance. In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Mr. Jones said, "A number of pet owners have complained to me that they bought a policy, and they weren't told about preexisting conditions." Mr. Jones added, "The worst possible time to realize that the pet insurance that you have paid premiums on for years does not actually cover the full cost of veterinary care is when your beloved pet needs emergency or high-cost care. This bill will take important steps to allow transparency in the marketing of pet insurance so that consumers can be fully informed of the exact terms of coverage, as well as any exclusions or limitations." Sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States and supported by California's Political Action Committee for Animals (PawPac) along with many concerned pet owners, AB2411 has no opposition at this time. The bill will be next presented for hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, on August 2. It would indeed be a boon to anyone who presently owns, or is considering the purchase of pet health insurance if the State Insurance Committees throughout the U.S. soon follow California's lead. Based on my personal experience with pet health insurance I am all too aware of the intricacies and difficult language that these policies can contain, and how confusing they can be, especially when involved with health care of a beloved pet that is seriously ill. What do you think about pet health care insurance? Leave a comment and share your opinions. Photo via.