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« A new life for Suzie | Main | A dog day in San Francisco: Good food, good friends, good dog »

02 January 2009

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Splash's mom

I second the vote for "catastrophic coverage". I'd be willing to go for that.



My experience with the AKC-sponsored coverage was this: I paid premiums on my two dogs for two years, which at 30/dog/month added up to $1440. When I made a $300 claim, they denied it, saying the condition was "pre-existing/genetic". I immediately canceled, and started putting $200/month in a "Pets Emergency Fund". The fund is now at $2000, and it's growing and earning me interest.



I just hope it gets big enough before I really need it!

Lis

Dorene, take a look at the Pet Insurance Review site. You might want to take a good look at Embrace or PetPlan, in particular.



Not every company will offer insurance in every state. I chose Embrace for my dog because it does include coverage for the hereditary conditions, as long as the pet has not already been diagnosed at the time of coverage.



The people that say they cover everything as long as the pet is insured before their first birthday--for a while they had "customers" who turned out to be, in fact, associates or agents of the company, burbling happily about how wonderful they are, pretty much every place I looked. I wouldn't trust them worth a dime. VPI, and the Embrace folks when they turn up, they identify themselves as employees/reps. Makes all the difference, in my mind.

Dorene

At this point, I have several savings accounts because just before the economy tanked, I got a couple of offers from online banks to park some money with them, so I'm able to cover basic vet expenses and "surprises" like Lindsey's "rare for a cat" surgery (a new vet at my regular vet's office had worked with the surgeon and thought a consult would be useful, but not necessairly possible -- the surgeon checked over Lindsey and said "Yeah, I think we can help him -- this week!") that seems to have fixed many of the problems he developed post-pet food recall.



If the insurance folks decide to show up here again, I'd be interested in "catasphoric coverage" for big ticket items that cover a pet at any time in their life.



I can pay for the normal stuff and even the quick emergencies like when Pepper (dog) cuts herself on a wire when running through the woods -- I'm much more interested in help with big bills for unexpected events like dealing with pet food recall issues, cancer, and elderly pet issues for mixed breed pets.

Gina Spadafori

But if I’d put Kyrie’s premiums in the bank every month since I got her policy, I’d now have only around $3000 — far, far less than I’ve been reimbursed for just her last year’s vet bills. Christie Keith @ 5:00 am



I think the financial experts who make these calculations start with the base information that people on average spend $500 or less annually on vet bills. Well, ha. I'm not "average."



My house is now worth less than I paid for it five years ago so no tapping equity in an emergency, and I'm working to be debt-free, so no credit cards.



I have pet health insurance on the four young pets -- the two cats and the two retrievers. My "come to Jesus" I need pet insurance realization came too late for the two older dogs, who will, of course, continue to get the best care I can give them, with no consideration of "economic euthanasia."



But I sure sure sleep better with policies on the young ones.

2CatMom

I've opted against pet insurance at this time. At $600+ per year to insure 2 cats it didn't seem to be worth it.



That being said, I do have homeowners insurance and I'm not expecting to have my house burn down anytime soon.



I think I could reasonably cover any emergency pet costs but know that a total loss of my residence would not be something I could pay my way through.



I should also point out that I am very fortunate in today's economy to have a job, a steady income, decent benefits, and a little left over at the end of the month. And yes, I have an emergency fund and a 401(k) (Ok, its only a 201k now) I can borrow from.

The OTHER Pat

Comment by 2CatMom — January 2, 2009 @ 2:30 pm



"and a 401(k) (Ok, its only a 201k now)"



Okay - that's just WAY too painfully funny!

Sara Jo

I don't have pet insurance, but with three (now two, unfortunately) pets getting old and starting to have health problems, I'm interested in hearing what people say about it. I know I will not be able to insure my old pets, but I wonder if it would be worth it to insure my rattie. He's healthy and still relatively young, although we don't know his exact age since he's a rescue. My two older pets both have renal insufficiency (a cat and a dog), and thankfully this hasn't been too expensive to manage. The one that died recently probably had a brain tumor, and we could not afford to go through the diagnostics to find out for sure, so we ended up letting the disease run its course until we finally had to end her suffering. She was old (14-1/2), so we probably would not have opted for treatment given her age, but what if she had not been old? We probably wouldn't have been able to afford treatment.

Laurie Luck, CPDT

I spent over $7,000 in one year and got $187 back for all my expenses. I HAD VPI (note the past tense?!). I found them to be extremely hard to deal with and uncommunicative. Clearly, I didn't get my money's worth...



My advice: simply put away the premiums into a savings account. There are way too many things that aren't covered.



My dog had a wicked fungus that almost killed him. Then a weird bacteria in his lungs. Less than $200 of my $7K bill was covered.



It was so bad I had to laugh -- my God, $187 didn't even cover my gasoline to get to the vet and back, let alone the surgeries, exams, tests, and drugs.



Skip the insurance. Save your money in your own bank account. You'll come out a winner that way.

Sara Jo

Hmmm. This is all very interesting. It kind of sounds like I might have trouble insuring my rattie given he is anywhere from 6 to 9 years old. I will still sleep well at night, however. Although we could not afford to diagnose Heidi, we did the very best we could with her for her entire life during which she had zero health problems until the last 2 months of her life. I mean ZERO. I think this is in part due to an excellent diet (home-cooked meals interspersed with exceptionally high-quality, well-research dog food) and exercise EVERY SINGLE DAY up until a few days before she died. I do not feel guilty, not one bit, for she had a great life. We did the very best we could and still do for our remaining animals.

Grant at VPI

Dorene,



I work for Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI). Based on your comment, you would probably want to look into our Superior medical plan (for accidents and illnesses) and our Cancer Rider. The Superior Plan has benefits for the catastrophic, including cancer, renal failure, broken bones, gastric torsion (bloat), foreign body ingestion surgery, etc... The cancer rider enhances cancer benefits, which is useful if you would opt for chemotherapy or radiation treatments. You can view a full list of covered conditions and the benefits available for each on our benefit schedule: http://tinyurl.com/6cqlou. We reimburse 90 percent of the benefit schedule allowance after a $50 per-incident deductible. Pre-existing conditions and congenital/hereditary conditions are not covered.



Our policies provide continuing term-to-term coverage for chronic conditions (such as diabetes or skin allergies) at no extra charge and we will not raise your premium based on the number of claims you submit. Obviously, if your primary concern is treatment for hereditary conditions, we may not be the company for you. But if you're looking to pay an affordable premium to offset the costs of catastrophic accidents and illnesses, then I think you'll find our policies ideal.

Arlene

Like Christie, I spent over $10,000 on vet bills for one of my dogs (who had an autoimmune disease). The experience was a real eye opener. I was taking her to UC Davis Veterinary Medical Center and so quickly became aware of all the state-of-the art medical treatments available--and their costs. I am a disciplined saver but still felt financial strain--and didn't want my decisions tainted by that. So I signed up for VPI for all my dogs after that experience.



I have had the Superior Plan and the cancer enhancements for all my dogs. I've made claims for two dogs. I don't claim for the minor stuff--but did make claims for what was basically the final disease process (cancer in both cases). In one case, the cancer was too advanced to treat, though there were a lot of tests; in the other, despite the dog's age (13), I went ahead with amputation of a front leg and chemotherapy (she did well for a year!). I was satisfied with VPI--I got back about 80% of the claim (no surprise it wasn't higher since I live in a high cost area).



I'm glad I have the insurance--there is a lot of peace of mind, even if I don't come out "ahead" (and I probably don't).

The OTHER Pat

I keep remembering the previous extended discussion here on the various pet insurance companies, and the wide range that existed in premium costs and coverages. It puts me in something of a state of "analysis paralysis" for fear of making the wrong choice. And the one that looked intriguing (where you got pretty good coverage, but had to start the policy before your pet was a year old) isn't available in my area. So it's been on my mind, but I'm a lousy decision-maker, and the element of risk that seems inherent in choosing "the right one" doesn't help much.



As an interesting aside - I've been looking into the possibility of a part-time second job. As I was perusing listings, something caught my eye that I was sure I had read wrong, but I opened the listing just to see. And sure enough - if you go to work for David's Bridal (David's Bridal for pete's sake!) one of the listed benefits is "Pet Insurance"!

Melissa

"If the insurance folks decide to show up here again, I’d be interested in “catasphoric coverage” for big ticket items that cover a pet at any time in their life. " Comment by Dorene — January 2, 2009 @ 8:13 am



Hi Dorene,



I work with Trupanion pet insurance (the "one you have to start before the pet is a year old" as mentioned earlier by The OTHER Pat) and would suggest you finding a plan that has a high deductible. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recently started promoting catastrophic pet insurance coverage by offering a "Seal of Acceptance" to plans that allow for a $500-$1000 deductible. You can read more about the Seal and AAHA's recommendations here: http://healthypet.com/sealofaccept.aspx . As you would probably assume, these higher deductible plans have much lower premiums, and might be more to your liking.



As for The OTHER Pat, way to go for finding a place that will offer pet insurance as a benefit! Can't say I'm surprised, anyone that has to deal with crazy brides all day deserves to go home and be able to pamper their pets;)

Anne T

Wow, look at all the responses from America's legalized scam artists! Bernie Maydoff, move over!

I am impressed this blog gets such a vast readership, though!

Thanks you guys, but I know when it comes time to file a claim on all the money I have paid in, you will find a way to either deny the claim, pay out then cancel my policy or raise my payments astronomically. The Insurance game is not in the favor of the policy holder.

I will continue to maintain a barely interest bearing fund for my aging dogs without your help, even if it requires selling capital IF it improves their quality of life and their life span. That way, I don't have to deal with your restrictive bullpucky that best fits your greed and not the best interests of me and my pets. Arrrghhhh!

Tara

I have Pet Plan health insurance on my young cat. I don't know yet if it works well - I haven't had to use it yet. Still, it's not too expensive and they cover chronic conditions for life provided you renew every year. I don't pay too much for it, either. I got the highest coverage and I only pay around $200/year, which isn't bad at all when you break it into quarterly installments.

Melissa

Sara Jo - I wouldn't feel guilty either! Your pups are lucky to have a mom that makes them homemade meals and makes sure they get plenty of excercise. Not to mention, I can't help but agree that that kind of attention aids in their health. Now if the rest of us humans could only have so much discipline...

Randi

I would love to hear from the experts at Pet Connection about the Banfield Animal Hospital Wellness Plan. I can't decide between that and pet insurance.

Alex from Embrace

@Best In Flock: Sorry, gratuitous plug that might help you: We've got a section on our website dedicated to pet insurance product comparison.



@Randi: Banfield does not offer pet insurance, only a wellness plan. So long as your pet never has to visit a referral or emergency hospital, Banfield will protect you. However depending on which pet insurance company & plan you choose you could get a policy that covered you both for care at Banfield and everywhere else for that matter and perhaps for not much more. Hit me up via e-mail if you want hard data.



@Laurie Luck: I am so sorry you had such a poor experience with VPI. I am not surprised you're jaded and offended at the concept of pet insurance. A savings plan is a great idea if you've got the discipline and so long as your pet doesn't get sick before you've got a few thousand saved up. I can tell you that the statistics we've got say that, over a 5 year period, the average dog has about a 75% of using his pet insurance plan (for the math geeks: this is just a binomial distribution with P[X>=1] and p=0.25). If savings plans were so great then we'd use them for health, auto, and every other kind of insurance too but they're not the panacea we make them out to be.

Brent

I would love for someone to do some analysis over the next few years on the cost of pet care.



My fear with pet insurance is that over time, similar to people health insurance, it will almost become mandatory for people to have insurance because they will not be able to afford even basic care without it.



Because the adminstrative costs (which are now about 50% of the costs of people health care) make costs go up, it becomes something that causes people who cannot afford pet insurance will be forced to surrender their pets for even the slighted of health concerns -- or will forgo basic health care altogether.



The long-term impact of insurance scares me -- although I can certainly see why those who can afford it would want it.

Gina Spadafori

All the lovely responses from pet insurance sales people have turned the tide, I now know that I was correct in thinking pet insurance to be a total scam. Before I was only of the opinion that it -might- be a scam.



Disgusting is the very kindest remark made by the several people I showed this thread.

None of whom will ever buy a policy for their pets from Embrace, or VPI.



Comment by Longlostpets — January 2, 2009



"Disgusting"? Why? Why the vitriol towards people who are trying to come in here and answer your questions?



I can assure you pet health insurance is not "a total scam," starting with the post these comments address. Pet health insurance has paid off in the thousands of dollars for Christie, and helped her keep Kyrie alive.



What about that do you find so threatening?



Do you find the concept of car, health and home insurance "disgusting"? Do you show this kind of anger towards your State Farm agent (or whatever?)?



Be civil here. Disagreements are fine. Attacking is not.

Gina Spadafori

Another note here.



In my opinion, pet health insurance should not ever be viewed as an HMO. It's something you carry so you can evaluate veterinary care on its merits if your pet gets sick, and not have to choose "economic euthanasia" because you can't afford to do what you would otherwise.



In other words, you can save and budget for preventive care -- well-pet exams, vaccinations as required (and they're NOT required annually, by the way), dental care.



What you can't save and budget for is the day you have to choose between your pet's life and a $10K vet bill. Now, even if you had all the money in the world you may believe that is money not well spent. And that's fine. Your pet will not suffer if you choose euthanasia.



For me, I factor in quality of life, chance of recovery, age of pet, etc. For example, I might make a different decision for 12-year-old retriever Heather than 1-year-old cat Clara.



But taking some of the financial pressure off is why I carry pet health insurance -- a catastrophic care plan with a $500 deductible. Because that's what works for me.

Lis

The time to purchase health insurance for your pets is when they are young and healthy, and then keep it up over the years. When your pet is already older or unwell, that's not the time to be looking for health insurance. You wonj't get it, or it won't be affordable, and it won't cover, then, what you need it to cover.



You get coverage for those emergencies by buying insurance when you don't think you need it and you are sure it's not going to "pay for itself"--anytime soon, or maybe ever. All insurance works that way; you don't buy car insurance when you've just had a serious accident, either.

Arlene

I haven't had any problem insuring my dogs rescued from rescue organizations, even though they were of "unknown origin." I do report known conditions--which have been minor (such as skin issues, ear infections)--and so those were excluded. One of my dogs was 8 when I insured him with VPI (but they may now longer insure older dogs for the first time--this was a number of years ago). The young dogs (again, the superior plan with cancer endorsement--it doesn't cover routine care) are about $25/month each--but it does go up every year. My older dog (at 13-14) was about $80/month. I agree with the comments that it is only to be expected that insurance companies won't cover known risks and would charge more for older, less healthy dogs--it is, as one commenter said, just the nature of insurance. And I DON'T particularly want to come out ahead--that would mean my dogs had serious health issues! Who wants to come out "ahead" on their own life insurance policy--or even their house insurance?

Melissa at Trupanion

My my! I look away for a day and this thread has gotten quite interesting!



Lis: Yes, "we who only insure pets under a year old" had some reps who were getting a little ahead of themselves. See, our company is quite new and all of these reps are pretty excited with what they're doing. Yes, I do work with the company, but am not a sales rep. So, we do apologize for anyone this offended, although I would hope that our complete reputation isn't ruined because a few over zealous folks decided to blog.



Straybaby: Dogster's website now has some more information on common breed specific conditions. I will admit, not all conditions listed are considered hereditary or congenital, but rather conditions that a given breed is more prone to based on their size, for example.



Best in Flock: Like Embrace, we have also created a company comparisons section on our website. I hope you find it helpful.

Lis

2CatMom, I know that options have gotten better over the past few years. Until this past spring, my periodic investigations of pet health insurance had all ended in the conclusion that any policy I could get wasn't worth what it would cost. But last April, I was able to buy my dog health insurance at a reasonable cost for her second birthday.



BUT, she's a purebred, of a breed with relatively few major health issues. For my two cats, age ten and age fifteen (one purebred and one "unknown origin"), I would only have been able to get accident/injury insurance, not coverage for illness.



My comments were really directed at Thomas' Mom, who said health insurance "would really only be more useful" for one cat, the one who is already seven, and who has three major chronic conditions. I say, find out if the other two, who apparently are healthy now, are insurable for a reasonable cost, and if they are buy the policies and maintain them--against the day when they may be older, and sick, and need expensive care.



They may not be, depending on their ages and whatever other factors. But I think it's a good idea to check.

2CatMom

Lis: You're right. But I had trouble finding insurance (though this may have changed) because the cats I adopted were over a year old and of 'unknown origin".



And what about people who adopt older animals? Its a shame that there aren't programs (Yet) that give a break on insurance if someone is willing to adopt a senior pet.



I had another thought about insurance. Another deciding point is how many animals you have. If I had six cats, and the possibility that they could all be poisoned by pet food or suffer some other illness at the same time, I have no doubt I would have catastrophic (pun intended) insurance.

Best in Flock

I'd love to see a comparison of the various pet insurance policies. I'm interested in evaluating my coverage options but would love more feedback on the different providers.

Steve

Take your time and if an Insurance Firm isn't willing to be scrutinized before you sign on the dotted line, another one perhaps will be.



Just keep in mind the one thing Insurance can not protect your pet from is ill health and problems resulting from poor mass produced junk (and "mad science") diets and the constant stresses resulting from such.

Constant vet care, complications, drug reactions, economic stress, home stress, fear.



Is that any way to live? Don't think so.



The Pet Food industry isn't making much progress since the recall in my opinion either. The result of mass deregulation (look the other way) pay to play ethics of our government. About all they've done is avoided another catastrophe until the next one happens.



We got a long way to go.

2CatMom

Thank you Gina. I wasn't sure what was going on with some of these comments. While I have opted not to buy pet insurance I think its a perfectly reasonable option for those who couldn't handle a large unexpected financial hit.



And in fairness I do want to say that when I looked 3 years ago - there were not as many policies to choose from. At the time (my cats were rescues) it was $300+ each for a 2 and 2 1/2 year old cat.



But reading the comments from satisfied purchasers and yes, the providers, I may take the time to reevaluate my choice at some point.

Thomas' Mom

I suspect that opting for insurance over a fund would really only be more useful in the case of one of my three cats.



Unfortunately, said cat (at seven years of age) has three chronic and potentially life-threatening medical conditions to which I am sure an insurance company would be more than happy to attribute just about anything (outside of an accident) that could possibly go wrong with him to. (To be completely fair, pretty much all of his veterinary expenses thus far *have* been a direct result of those three things.. so I can't say that I'd blame them.) I can't imagine it would ever pay off. I doubt we would ever wind up getting reimbursed for anything outside of basic care (vaccines et al), which wouldn't even come close to the cost of insuring him.



Regarding the catastrophic care plans.. do these provide coverage even in instances where said 'catastrophe' may have been precipitated by a pre-existing condition?

Alex from Embrace

@Longlostpets: It's a pity that open dialog and interchange offends you. And for what it's worth, I'm not "a pet insurance salesperson". Perhaps you'd rather spend your life dealing with companies that never interact with you publicly and that might be held accountable to what they say?



@straybaby: Around 1 in 4 pets will claim in any given year, rising to 3 in 4 over any 5-year period, even higher for some breeds (take a guess which ones). I don't have numbers for routine care but if you included them then I imagine you'd hit 80-90% in any given year.

straybaby

"congenital/hereditary conditions are not covered."



I'd like to know what these are. Is there a list? Conditions by breed, perhaps? What about felines of the stray and mixed breed sort? Mine are all listed at the vet by color and DSH or DLH. Would they have "issues" with that clause?

Longlostpets

All the lovely responses from pet insurance sales people have turned the tide, I now know that I was correct in thinking pet insurance to be a total scam. Before I was only of the opinion that it -might- be a scam.



Disgusting is the very kindest remark made by the several people I showed this thread.

None of whom will ever buy a policy for their pets from Embrace, or VPI.

straybaby

Comment by Alex from Embrace — January 2, 2009 @ 9:17 pm



Does that 75% include the yearly checkup/vacs? If so, do you have a number that doesn't include it?

Gina Spadafori

Randi, we're not in a position to recommend. You need to look at the plans and decide what's best for you and your pet or pets.



In fact, this needs to be noted: Even though VPI is an advertiser, various PetConnection folks have chosen different pet insurance companies -- VPI, Pets Best and Embrace -- because we have different needs.



I have come to believe in pet health insurance very strongly -- but I also believe that the plans are not "one size fits all."

straybaby

Thanks Melissa! I notice that Trupanion covers hereditary issues, which is nice. My breed of choice is fairly low on issues, but anytime I see the exclusion (I think it was a VIP above?) I ask about it as I believe there's some wiggle room there and that's one area I believe should be spelled out in black and white if you are insuring a pet for the long haul :)



Gina, sorry about making it look like I was talking about yearly vacs! YIKES!!!



Alex from Embrace, thanks for the clarification! Is there a reason you and some other companies don't cover routine visits, like yearly well checks? Seems like the policy I looked at a few years back at a vets office did. I would think that would be encouraged with full or partial coverage.



Does anyone do "family plans"? As the cost of vet care increases, folks may want to opt in, but it could be a bit of an expense with multiple animals at various ages. For instance, I have 5 cats, 2-16 no known health issues and one dog age unknown (think she's closer to 7, but could be 10-11yo Dal) also, no known health issues. Any plans out there for people like me?



Arlene, there's a list on the VIP site as to what is and isn't covered.

2CatMom

Arlene - you made an excellent point - insurance is not a bet you want to win! That's why a high deductible plan for major things would make more sense to me.



But if companies exclude illness after a certain age - then I don't see the point. My kitties are strictly indoor so the chance of an accident or serious injury is pretty small. But perhaps the policy you refer to is geared more for dogs.

Therese

I am a definite believer in pet health insurance!! Last January I got my 2 dogs and cat insured and in July my dog Lydia was diagnosed with cancer. I have a dog who's cancer is in remission, but what I don't have are the headaches and turmoil of worrying if I can afford her treatment. She's still going through chemo, and at this point, like Christie, I'm thousands of dollars ahead of the game. I still have to pay a percentage, which is a stretch at times, but with the insurance it's doable.

Lis

2CatMom, the exclusion of illness for older cats was for cats being insured for the first time, not for cats who had been insured prior to the cutoff age. For pets who are insured from a younger age, the coverage for illness continues.



With the high rate of kidney failure in older cats, I'm not really shocked or appalled that they don't want to cover illness in a cat being insured for the first time at an older age.



Melissa at Trupanion--you know the old saying about only getting one chance to make a first impression? That doesn't mean you can't recover from it, but it does mean you're at a disadvantage.

Lis

Straybaby, insurance is based on the assumption that most people, most years, won't use it. They will pay their premiums, but not have a claim. All insurance works like this, except human health insurance. The people who are paying premiums but don't have any claims that year provide the money, directly or through it building up in investments the insurance company makes, that covers the people that, in that particular year, are unfortunate enough to "win their bet" and make a claim.



Human health insurance is so expensive because we actually do want routine care covered, and that means that premiums and the returns on the investment of the premiums have to cover stuff that people really will be doing every year and maybe more than once a year. It's much harder to make a profit that way, and it results in insurance companies trying to make up the difference by denying coverage any time they can, any way they can. The "insurance" model is wrong for what we want with human health care, but resistance to changing it is very strong.



Pet health insurance, OTOH--most people who have pets can budget for and cover routine care themselves. And the kind of people who would buy pet health insurance, are the kind of people who will, in fact, have their pets at the vet every year for a routine physical, do the currently recommended vaccines, keep up heartworm and flea protection. Coverage for routine care, if it's included in the poicy, is used more even than most people--the same people--use routine medical care for themselves. So including routine coverage boosts cost a lot, moving the coverage people really need, the coverage for non-routine and potentially catastrophic illnesses and accidents, into a harder-to-reach category.



My only complaint with Embrace's policy (which it should be noted I've had no occasion yet to actually use) is that I'd have liked to be able to choose an even higher deductible. High-deductible health insurance policies are abusive and exploitive for most human beings, but they're exactly what most pet owners who would purchase pet health insurance at all really need.

Thomas' Mom

Thanks for the response.. I figured as much.



This particular cat was feral, trapped when relatively young (2-3 y/o), and arrived with two of the conditions (one of which was discovered at his first trip to the vet’s, the second shortly afterward). The third became apparent last year following an unexpected response to a medication. So, in his case, insuring while he was young and healthy was never an option.



It is possible that someday, I may elect to take in another cat from this colony. Because two of T’s issues are hereditary, my preference would be to insure the cat pretty much immediately, before any potential problems arise (or are discovered).



Unfortunately, hindsight is always 20/20, I suppose. I don’t have any regrets.. this kitty is the light of my life, and I couldn’t have picked a better match if I’d tried. The bills, however, do add up. He’s never been denied medical treatment due to cost, and fortunately, he won’t have to be. Still, it sure would be nice to have somebody else picking up a chunk of his expenses.



(My other two are healthy, but no longer 'young', per se. One will be seven in a few months, the other six. And the six year old was treated for ARF during the recall (successfully, thus far), so I don’t know how that would affect his options insurance-wise.)

Arlene

When I was speaking of what was excluded, it was "preexisting conditions," such as (in my dogs' cases) skin allergies or ear infections. VPI didn't exclude "expected" conditions (as cancer, unfortunately, is in older dogs--and people). As far as I know, VPI hasn't excluded any breed-specific conditions (but perhaps I haven't read my policies as carefully as I should!)

Karina A.

Wow! This has been a very popular topic considering all the comments! We had insurance before but could never find a vet that accepted it here on Tennessee since we moved 5 years ago. Now I see that Kroger is adding pet insurance to their insurance portfolio (they're even adding auto insurance!) and have it on my to-do list for this week to read and find out more.

Gina Spadafori

Karina, pet health insurance isn't like an HMO ... veterinarians don't "take it" for payment.



Typically, you pay your veterinarian's bill and submit for reimbursement, amount determined by the plan you've chosen.



And again, plans very widely. You need to look at them all and all the options, and then decide which one works for you and your pets.

karen

Count me among those who purchase pet insurance. I've insured my pets for the past 8 years, and the coverage has frequently paid for itself. The peace of mind knowing I won't have to make my pets' health decisions based on cost has been priceless.

Amy

I've thought a lot about pet health insurance. The jury is still out, but as for now, myself and my pets do not have insurance.



To be honest, I cannot afford anything at the moment, which is definitely scary. I basically walk around cautiously (literally and figuratively since it's icy here) and hope that nothing major happens.



I am young and educated, but I came from a welfare family and knew nothing about debt and the cost of education. I certainly know now. When I decided to go to college and tried to figure out the cost and how it would all be manageable, I was told that it would be my best shot at a future.



Now I'm not an idiot, but I sure feel like one for believing any of that. On top of my student loans and the money that I've had to spend on family emergencies, I'm a small business owner in THIS economy. While I've made some bad choices (I hate to call education a bad choice.... but it was), I've also had some hard luck.



I already have mistrust of insurance companies which stems from experiences of my family and my boyfriend's family as well as a few friends. I just don't want to spend money on something that's going to screw me over anyway. I don't think any health industry should ever be FOR PROFIT. We're on this forum talking about not wanting to make decisions based on economic considerations. However, when the facilities we need to use are for profit businesses, there's no way around that.



If nutrition was a bigger factor for people doctors and animal doctors, this wouldn't be an issue. I believe we'd start seeing how necessary it is to have a non-profit health industry. We'd also see the cost become more manageable.



As for now, if I break a leg, you might as well shoot me. I can't handle absolutely anything else. This is the breaking point. I still take care of my animals by giving them the very best of everything. They eat well. That's my only insurance and it's a pretty big start.



If I could afford insurance, I'm not sure I would buy into it. While I'm not quite as angry as longlostpets seems to be, yes I am disgusted by the concept of health insurance. Actually, scratch that. I might be even more angry. I don't want anyone to profit off of illness or fear of illness.



@Arlene: I didn't think of "coming out ahead" as related to a pet actually getting ill. I read it as what would be paid out of pocket vs insurance costs IF a pet becomes ill. Obviously, no one wants a pet to be ill. But if we're speaking of purchasing insurance, we have to think about the hypotheticals and whether or not the insurance will cost more in the long run.



@Therese: How much did you end up paying for Lydia's bills (if you don't mind me asking)? And how much was her premium?



I'd really like to think insurance isn't a waste of money, but it's very hard to be open minded after the people insurance issues my family has been through. If one day it becomes a possibility, I'll re-evaluate again. I appreciate all the real-people stories and comments.

Alex Verrastro

Today, there was an article in the Buffalo News about pet health insurance. And in my mom's CSEA Retiree Newsletter, there was an ad for a 5% discount for CSEA members on VPI Pet Insurance.

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