Imagine: Your beloved furry companion suddenly darts in front of a moving car. You rush her broken body to the emergency veterinarian. If you have saved for unexpected pet health care costs, good for you! Many people, however, fail to factor pet health care costs into their monthly budget and can be caught unprepared for potentially high medical bills. Sadly, these owners may have to decide whether they can afford to visit their veterinarian for an initial work-up, let alone pay for hospitalization and treatment. Owners are forced to choose which pieces of health care they can afford, and in some cases, pets are euthanized because their owners cannot afford the necessary health care at all.
Having a pet health insurance policy in place allows you to provide your pet with the health care she deserves without concern about cost.
Common emergencies and illnesses
Our four-legged friends can be affected by a myriad of expensive injuries and diseases. Emergency exam fees, diagnostic tests such as bloodwork and radiographs, and treatments (often involving surgical procedures) can easily cost thousands of dollars. Some of the priciest conditions include:
- Stomach and intestinal foreign bodies — Dogs, cats, and even exotic pets are known to eat items (think bones, rocks, socks, corncobs, etc.) that can lodge in the digestive tract, becoming life-threatening foreign bodies that must be surgically removed.
- Cranial cruciate ligament tears — Similar to the human anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee, this ligament can tear suddenly during exercise or activity, rendering the dog unable to bear weight on the affected rear leg. Surgical repair of the knee joint is the best treatment option and is typically quite costly.
- Intervertebral disc disease — When an animal “slips a disc,” abnormal pressure is placed on the spinal cord, causing pain and often paralysis. Emergency surgery, a lengthy hospital stay, and rehabilitation are often the prescribed treatments.
- Broken bones — A fractured bone will require anesthesia along with splinting, casting, or (even more expensive) surgically placed plates, screws, or pins.
- Cancer — Animals are affected by many forms of cancer, which can cause chronic illness and pain. Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and other treatments can add up quickly.
Things to consider when purchasing an insurance policy
With many different companies available, it is important to research the various options and decide which type of policy will best meet your pet’s needs. Some questions to consider when doing your homework include:
- What will be the cost of the monthly premium? Many companies offer different policies with varying coverage and premiums.
- Will the premium increase after a claim is paid?
- How much is the deductible? Is it an annual deductible or is it paid per claim?
- What portion of the remaining cost will be paid? Policies can cover anywhere from 25 to 90 percent of the bill.
- Is there a maximum amount per year (or over the lifetime of the policy) the company will pay out?
- Can you use a veterinarian of your choice, or will you have to use an “approved” veterinarian from a predetermined list?
- Will the insurance company pay the veterinary office directly, or will you have to pay and then submit paperwork for reimbursement?
- Will the policy cover hereditary and congenital (present since birth) diseases?
- Will the policy cover chronic diseases, such as cancer?
- Can pets “age out” of the policy, becoming too old to be insured?
Which insurance company should you choose?
Many of our clients have purchased their pet health insurance through TrupanionⓇ, a reputable company that offers plans that include:
- Coverage of all injuries and illnesses, including foreign body ingestion, urinary obstruction, bite wounds, respiratory infections, allergies, patellar luxation, and kidney disease
- Coverage of congenital and hereditary conditions, such as hip dysplasia, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer
- Submission of claims directly to TrupanionⓇ by our staff members, which means no paperwork or complicated forms for you to fill out
- Direct payment of the claim to the veterinary clinic, which significantly decreases your out-of-pocket expenses at the time of your pet’s visit
- Premiums that will never go up, regardless of the number of claims filed or your pet’s age
- Deductibles that are paid only once for chronic conditions, with 90 percent of the remaining cost covered during your pet’s entire lifetime
- No maximum amount paid out for an individual claim or over the life of the animal
Many other pet insurance companies offer comparable policies. Call our office at 512-696-3980 for help choosing the policy that would be best for you and your pet, because your pet’s health care should never be a question of money.
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