Health Insurance for Pets A Good Idea
Michael W. Stephan, D.V.M.
Juno Beach Animal Hospital
One of the articles on this page last week pointed out that only three percent of owners have health insurance for their pets. There are presently five or six companies offering pet health insurance nationwide. Does it make sense to invest in insurance for your pet? As with any insurance plan you might take for yourself or your family, the answer to that question will depend on your over all financial situation and the plan you purchase.
Veterinary medicine has expanded tremendously in the last ten years. Specialists have moved out of the universities and into private practice making specialized care much more accessible to people over a larger geographic area. In Palm Beach County alone, we have the services of three board certified surgeons, two ophthalmologists, a dermatologists, a neurologist, and an internist. This expansion has made tests and treatments such as MRIs, chemotherapy and radiation therapy for cancer, and total hip replacements available for your pets which were virtually unthinkable as little as ten years ago, and while these are done at only a fraction of what the same procedures cost in human medicine, the expenses can run to thousands of dollars in some cases.
Before you sign on the dotted line make sure you know what you are buying. Some policies will exclude coverage for routine care such as vaccinations, others pay for vaccinations, but no medical or surgical care. As with HMOs some policies may limit which veterinarians you can choose for your pet. In most cases you will still have to pay the veterinarian for their services and then get reimbursed by the insurance company. Your deductible and the percentage of coverage will also vary depending on the policy.
As with our own health insurance policies, pre-existing conditions are usually not covered so it is important to obtain coverage before health problems arise. Petland on Northlake Blvd in North Palm Beach now includes a policy for coverage for the first year with the purchase of every puppy. Owners have the option of continuing coverage at the end of the year.
Good health insurance can make the difference in being able to treat some serious conditions in your pet. Be sure to shop around and read and compare policies closely before you purchase one so that you will know in advance what coverage you are obtaining.