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Pet Insurance: The Pro's, The Con's or Thoughts

Discussion in 'Pre-Veterinary' started by BeeBee82, Dec 31, 2008.

  1. BeeBee82

    BeeBee82 CSU c/o 2013!
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    Pet insurance is a fairly new topic for me and I wanted to start a thread about to see what everyone's thoughts are. Also, hopefully discussing something else can serve as distraction from my checking email every 5 seconds and stalking the mail man. I feel as though I've come down with sudden onset OCD.

    Anyways, I'll go first... Let me start by saying I know little to nothing about this topic and my opinions are based on no hard fact. The clinics I have worked in did not offer any particular pet insurance and I only remember a few clients with especially accident prone animals having it. My biggest worry with pet insurance is 1) paying more for it than your healthy pet will ever use, and 2) seeing the trend in human medicine, I would hate to see Veterinarians hands tied by CEO's, and in the long term, driving pet medical prices so high that someone without pet insurance could not afford standard medical care.

    Any takers?...
     
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  3. BodhiBird

    BodhiBird TCSVM c/o 2013
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    I'm fairly ignorant about the subject too. I don't think it would necessarily make a doctor's hands tied. Contrary, I actually think it might allow the doctor more freedoms, as I see a lot of clients discouraging big work-ups in order to keep their bills down. However, I do worry about rising vet bills and think we are already seeing it as an unfortunate side-effect of increasing technology in vet medicine. But, returning to the subject of insurance, I think I would at least look into it for my dog and cat if I were not working as a vet technician and hopefully going to vet school.
     
  4. Pandacinny

    Pandacinny VMRCVM c/o 2013
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    I have pet insurance for my cat. He's just over a year old, so he wasn't too expensive to insure. I haven't had to use the insurance yet - it basically covers emergencies. I've looked into plans that cover "regular" expenses like vaccines and check ups, but those ones didn't seem worthwhile financially. I basically have it in case he gets out and is hit by a car, or breaks his leg, or has cancer or something. A friend of mine has VPI and has used it quite a bit more for his cat. He's pretty happy with it. He says the absolute worst part is getting vets to submit claim forms - they just never seem to get them in quickly and it keeps him from being reimbursed as fast as he'd like.

    I don't have insurance on my dog. It's really, really expensive to insure an older animal and my puppy is around 10 years old. It just didn't seem worth it. Instead, I have a care credit card. It's a credit card that I basically only use at the vet's office. I've only ever used it once when we racked up an emergency vet bill of a little over $2000 on my sister's dog. (So worth it - this was years ago and he's great now!) Anyways, it was nice to know I had the ability to cover those expenses, despite being a sophomore in college making practically no money. If we payed it off on time every month and got it done within a year, there wasn't any interest. I don't know if it still works that way, though.

    So yeah, insurance is good if you can start young and your pet doesn't have a lot of congenital issues (which generally aren't covered.) It's not so good on an older pet, but the care credit card is an option.
     
  5. Badger Girl

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    Yep, I have pet insurance as well. It seems as though VPI and ASPCA are two of the bigger entities that offer pet health insurance. I have 5 animals insured for about $102 per month. For my dogs, I have them on a plan that covers a bit more than emergencies, but for the cats, I have them on the least expensive plan that just covers the emergency stuff. So far, I have been happy with choosing to have all of them covered and I have a little bit more peace of mind knowing that most of the bigger things are covered. My dogs are fairly young, so I didn't run into any pre-existing issues that would prevent them from being covered. After I researched the different plans between VPI and ASPCA, I ended up going with ASPCA.
     
  6. david594

    david594 The-OSU CVM c/o 2013
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    The ASPCA plan really seems to be a decent deal if you are just looking for peace of mind with the emergency stuff.

    Badger, for your cats did you go with the cat plan that was one step up from the bottom? ~$11 a month versus ~$6(for a younger cat)?
     
  7. Badger Girl

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    I have my cats on the basic "Safety" plan, which is about $8 or something like that per month. I chose the "Advantage" plan for my dogs, which covers a bunch more such as annual exams and vaccinations. I think it's about $34 per month/per dog. I've got two giant breeds, so I decided to go with the more expensive plan since any medications and other treatments will be more expensive due to their weight. I just had my Saint Bernard to the vet today and the vet thinks he may have lupus. :( He seemed to think that it can be controlled with some medication (which may be long-term). I believe the biopsy and some of the meds will be covered by insurance. The biggest pain for me is filling out the paperwork and submitting the claims! I have a stack of them to send in and I keep forgetting to.
     
  8. Jochebed

    Jochebed Ye Must Be Born Again
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    Pros:
    Not too expensive
    Several companies out there, and more every year
    Different package types, coverage types, etc
    Works at any vet anywhere
    Very little paperwork for the veterinarian to fill out (usually just has to sign form)
    Taken care of entirely between the client and the insurance company
    ****NOT AT ALL LIKE HUMAN HEALTH INSURANCE!!!!****
    - Pet health insurance is similar to your car insurance. You deal with the insurance company, not the guy that fixes your car. There's technical terms for the difference but I don't remember what they are, but that's the easiest, best and closest example. I think that because people HATE the human health insurance world so much we have VERY little worry about the pet health insurance industry going the same way. There are very few companies that structure their pet health insurance that way and DVMs have actively fought to keep it from going that route.

    Cons:
    Clients still need to pay up front - the company reimburses them. Which means if they don't have the money at the time they bring the pet in to see you, it doesn't help them and it's still a headache for you and thus it's NOT for every client.
    People think it's like human health insurance and are reluctant to use it or recommend it.

    I don't have pet health insurance, but we had a VPI lunch recently and I had the privilege of going out to dinner with the local representative for the company that night as well and really got to ask her a lot of questions. She's a private practicing veterinarian - not just a company face - that has the insurance herself and recommends it to many (but not ALL) of her clients.

    So yea, there's what I know. :)
     
  9. Electrophile

    Electrophile Working Dog Doc
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    Instead of pet insurance, I have an emergency fund that we put a certain amount of money in a month in lieu of paying a company a certain amount of money every month. That way, we don't need to worry about anything more than getting online and transferring from the savings into the checking acount. I have it automatically taken out of our checking account every month, so it's paid like an online bill kinda. Otherwise, it's hard to have the discipline to do. We had VPI give our class a presentation for our business class. It was alright, but eh, I just like having more control over stuff with less hassle. :D
     
  10. Bill59

    Bill59 Member
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    Clients also need to be aware of what's not covered. Common exclusions include behavior disorders, most dental procedures, parasites, parvovirus, breeding or parturition problems, diets, hip dysplasia, patella luxation, galucoma, collapsing trachea, and anything they regard as hereditary.

    They also set limits on how much they will pay for specific procedures regardless of what they really cost.
     
  11. cozycleo

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    PPs pretty much covered what I know about it. We don't have insurance for our cats. Instead we have Care Credit. It's not good for every vet, but our local emergency clinic takes it, and that's the important thing for us. I think it's better to just have an emergency savings fund in some circumstances. I am slowly working on building one up, but the Care Credit is a good backup.
     
  12. sumstorm

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    As noted, Care Credit isn't accepted everywhere.

    Exclusions are very important to look at. Also limitations, and if there are 'terms' on who it covers. Rehab often isn't covered, and while not a huge expense, can be a chronic cost that can break the bank.

    It also depends on how likely incident are. When I lived in NYC, hit-by-car incidents were relatively rare, since nearly every dog was walked on leash, and was trained to walk on leash appropriatly, but since moving to the Carolinas we see an average of 1-2 HBC a week, and we aren't an emergency clinic.

    We are considering insurance if I get into vet school, because the pets will live with my husband and/or my parents, who are not as familiar with vet medicine, have less associations to get discounts in pricing, and can't do some of the care that I can currently handle myself. I don't want any of them to worry about having to take a pet in, and I can cover the initial costs with a credit card then obtain reimbursement.

    As a vet assistant, the most obnoxious thing is hearing a client say, AFTER completing an appointment, 'Oh there is a form I need filled out that has to be signed by the vet, here it is (or I left it at home, or I need to print it out, etc.)' Some vets will not do the paperwork after the fact. So if your going to use insurance, you need to be prepared when you visit your vet, not expect to drop the form off later on, or ask the staff to get it for you. We have several clients who are very happy with it, but they are also intensive clients that we seed thier pets very regularly. Also, as staff, I get huge discounts, that make the insurance very expensive. I basicly get everything at cost.
     
  13. Pandacinny

    Pandacinny VMRCVM c/o 2013
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    I agree that you need to read carefully about what pet insurance covers. Many seem to have more exclusions for dogs than cats. For my younger cat, I pay around $200/year for thousands of dollars in coverage. They don't really have any exclusions for his stuff unless the disease is because of some pre-existing condition that showed signs before the policy started, or unless I don't take him in to see a vet regularly (I think a lack of yearly check-ups makes them drop me and refund part of my premiums for the year or something. Not something I've worried about.)

    Everyone seems to get way better discounts than I'm able to get. Most of my vet experience has been at the shelter or nonprofits, though. I can get basic care covered there, but that's not what I have insurance for anyways. Also, can't get my cat seen at the lab. :p At the emergency clinic where I worked for awhile, they definitely did not give employees things at cost. You got a small discount on some services, but they really wanted to discourage employees from feeling they could bring their pets in for free care any time, so it wasn't much.

    Also, in lieu of Care Credit, you could always get a different low interest credit card that you save only for veterinary expenses. Care Credit has been accepted almost everywhere I've been here, but I'm sure this differs by where you live. Of course, I think it would be best to set up a savings account for your pets while keeping the credit card set aside. That way, you have some foundation to start paying the card off.
     
    #12 Pandacinny, Jan 2, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2009
  14. littleinky

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    In advance, I apologize for the length but I have had a LOT of experience with 1 pet health insurance company (the largest pet insurer in the country). My friends always refer their friends with pet health insurance questions to me and this is my standard reply:

    Many people like to think that pet insurance is this great thing that will save them money. Most of the time it doesn't (remember it's still a business). There are only 3 circumstances that it would really help you. The first is if you live in Montana?(not sure which state, about 3 years ago a woman on one of my yahoo groups alerted me to this aberration when I ranted about my pet insurance company’s horrid benefit schedule) one of the Midwestern states, for some reason vet fees in that state are supposedly significantly lower than the country’s national averages which the benefit schedule is supposedly based on. So if you pay to get your cat vaccinated for FVRCP and file a claim- the reimbursement check is larger by a few dollars than what you paid at the vet’s office and you turn a profit on your insurance plan. I highly suspect this is either no longer true or never was (as it seems like a ridiculous business practice) and I personally I believe their benefit schedule is creatively determined and not based on national averages like they claim. Remember that human health insurance has recently undergone similar scrutiny in the supposed national averages for their benefit schedules…. (It can’t be an average calculation if most or all providers charge significantly more for a service.) NYC (like most major US cities) loses out on the region factor- big time. The best it will ever be for NYCers is around a 15% discount on the total vet bill. (Repeat- this doesn't apply to pre-existing conditions or anything even remotely related to the organ system that pre-existing condition entails). One of my cats had a urinary blockage (so the vet diagnosed him with, at the time) 6 years ago, before I even knew pet insurance existed and the company would not cover anything for the sick visit or diagnostics when he peed blood 3 years ago even though we found out it was due to kidney failure from a rare fungal infection and was not a urinary tract issue at all.

    The second place where it comes in handy is for unexpected accidents. My same cat once ripped a nail out when playing and the insurance company reimbursed me for about 15% of the cost of his emergency visit and medicine. This accident coverage was probably the only promise they came through on. This was also my first claim so it lulled me into thinking they would handle everything so efficiently. (how naïve I was!) :mad:

    The last circumstance where it is good to have insurance is cancer. (And you have to be enrolled in the plan when the cat is healthy). Cancer coverage has the best reimbursement rates, considering that up to 50% of companion animals will develop cancer in their lifetime, it's a reasonable thing to consider (note this 50% statistic is taken from an advertisement sent to me by this insurance company- have no idea if it’s true, but there do seem to be an awful lot of cancer patients at the clinic I volunteer at.) Again it will doubtful amount up to more than a 15% discount of what you have to pay- but still it's at least a discount. This feature would only be helpful if someone is willing to lay out the $$$$ for the cancer treatment. Most people when they find out that the good chemo will cost them 1K+ per treatment, decide to put the animal down or try the cheap chemo which has a ridiculously low success rate and then put the animal down when it fails. Even cancer coverage still works out to be a discount, never full coverage. If their policy mentions anything about 100% coverage, I can give the analysis for why the company can claim that- but it's long and I'm tired- but if you really need to know- ask me and I’ll post it later in the day. The insurance companies that use a benefits schedule or a schedule of fees will never (in NYC) ever end up paying 100% of what the owners pay to the vet- no matter how persuasive their advertising campaign makes it look.

    I used to have all 3 of my cats enrolled for the top of the line most extensive coverage but I sat down to do the math last year and canceled all of their policies. I paid $3k total in premiums for all of them- 2 of my guys are pretty healthy save a few dental issues, but I paid more than $30K in vet bills during the 3 years I was on the plan (85% of that due to 1 mysteriously ill cat). In total I only got back about $2.5K (less than 1%.) If I hadn’t disputed every rejected claim (and there were many rejected claims) the amount I would have been reimbursed would have totaled about $900. And I'm anal about filing paperwork, calling to find out where they were in the deliberation process, and keeping notes and copies of all of my calls and correspondence- so it wasn’t due to lack of diligence or follow-up (I’ve had years of experience fighting healthcare bureaucracy due to my own medical issues and am more than familiar on how to dispute a claim, appeal, and properly follow-up) I spent almost 44 hours on the phone and god knows how many hours on hold to only get back a small portion (less than 1%) of the total amount I had to lay out. After I crunched the numbers, I decided that it wasn't worth it- if I had 1 really sick cat and 2 healthy cats and still didn't even break even on the premiums. So I stopped all 3 of their plans.

    The thing that I can say with the strongest of opinion is DO NOT enroll in VPI (Long name- Veterinary Pet Insurance) it has the worst reimbursement rates- compare benefit schedules and you’ll see. I wrote them a letter and CC’d the Better Business Bureau of the Southland about their poor business practices after my 3 year long battle with them. In the end, all I could do was cancel my coverage with them. (litigation is not in my blood and I'm broke enough after shelling out everything I had ever saved + going into debt for my cat) I spent about another 10K on my sick cat in the year following my cancellation of their plan before we finally found out what was wrong with him. I think the reduced level of time, stress and emotional turmoil by not being enrolled in their plan more than made up for the maybe $100 I would have gotten back from them.

    In short, unless you want accident coverage, suspect your little guy will develop cancer and you plan to shell out the big bucks to treat it, or you live in that mythical state where it costs less than $15 for a wellness checkup and yearly vaccinations, I do not recommend pet insurance. I will never recommend VPI.
    ­________________________________________________________________________

    So for those of you in vet school being wined and dined by VPI- I hope you take advantage of the freebies they give you- but think really really hard on whether you would actually recommend them to your future clients otherwise they are just buying you and adding to your future clients’ unhappiness. I originally found VPI through my primary care vet's office- they had brochures artfully laid out on the counter. My primary care vet saw what I went through with them in those 3 years and combined with the mountain of paperwork she created for them, over and over again because they kept “losing” the records we sent (3xs). The 4th one I sent certified mail. I am happy to report that she no longer carries their brochures at her clinic.

    I am currently considering just enrolling my healthy little guys in cancer coverage and accidental coverage through Pet Plan but I haven’t had a moment to research them thoroughly enough, yet. At first glance, it seems like their policies don’t run on a benefit schedule, and if that’s true, then it would remove my largest reasons for being so against pet health insurance. Please do not misunderstand me, I am not plugging Pet Plan- I have been too burned by my experiences with VPI to ever heartily recommend another pet health insurance company without doing the proper legwork first.

    I hope this helps explain pet insurance to you. While I understand that my case may have been unique- so far the satisfied customers of VPI policies, whom I have met have been people who have never submitted claims on their pets.

    If any of you do like VPI, I'd be more than happy to hear why you are satisfied with them as i do have a lot of people asking me about pet health insurance and I would prefer to give a fair description of their practices rather then just my experiences alone. After all, there must be someone out these whose had an equally positive experience with them to contrast on my uber negative view of them and it would explain why they are still in business....
     
  15. VeganSoprano

    VeganSoprano Queen of Spayeds
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    I've seen insurance do amazing things. At the hospital where I work, we recently had a 7-month-old kitten who fell from an 8th story balcony. She had a fractured pelvis, a pneumothorax, and several other injuries I can't even recall. She's doing great now but required two major surgeries and was in the hospital for a couple of weeks. Insurance meant her family was only responsible for about $1000, instead of $6000 or so. They would not have been able to afford the full cost of her care and her outcome would have certainly been very different without insurance.

    My feeling about insurance is that if you can't spare $2000 at the drop of a hat for an emergency, then you need to have it. If you can't come up with $2000 one way or another initially (savings, credit card, Care Credit, borrowing a parent's credit card for a younger person, borrowing cash, whatever), then you may not be able to afford a pet.

    From the veterinary hospital's standpoint, insurance is great for the bottom line because it means clients can afford a level of care that they otherwise wouldn't have been able to. It's also huge for staff morale to be able to treat animals rather than euthanize because of financial considerations. The paperwork the doctor has to fill out is relatively minimal and well worth it.
     
  16. Pandacinny

    Pandacinny VMRCVM c/o 2013
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    Pet Plan is the insurance I have on my cat. I don't think they run on a benefit schedule and their rates are lower than VPI's. They also have "coverage for life" - meaning that if my cat develops some sort of issue now, they'll keep covering it for life provided I don't have any lapses in insurance coverage.

    Pet plan has a maximum benefit ($20,000 for the highest coverage) and they pay the "reasonable cost of any medically necessary treatment" your pet receives for covered illnesses and injuries up to that maximum. They don't cover any illness or injury that showed clinical signs before the policy went into effect, but anything else seems to be fair game. This includes congenital problems - they'll cover them if no clinical signs were present before the policy started.

    So it sounds like with VPI, if they tell you the average cost of X surgery your pet needs is
    $500, they reimburse you that $500, right? With Pet Plan, you send in your claims form and,
    provided you have enough benefits left, they reinforce the actual cost of the surgery. They try to get all claims settled within a week. Basically, they exclude anything your veterinarian does not deem medically necessary, anything your pet got because you injured them intentionally, and anything that first showed signs before the policy date. Otherwise, they provide coverage. To renew each year, you have to provide them record of a vet visit, and they require what looks like a routine "senior blood work" panel on older pets in order to renew the policy. They don't cover vaccines or flea/tick prevention.

    This is all pulled right from my policy documents, but it's on their website too I think. (www.gopetplan.com) I went with Pet Plan because they didn't seem too restrictive and the premiums for my young cat weren't high. I haven't had to use them yet, so maybe it'll all come out terribly, but they seem good so far, customer service wise.
     
    #15 Pandacinny, Jan 2, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2009
  17. Pandacinny

    Pandacinny VMRCVM c/o 2013
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    Oh, also, Pet Connection has a post up on Pet Insurance today, if anyone's interested!

    http://www.petconnection.com/blog/2009/01/02/reflections-on-pet-insurance/

    And littleinky, my friend uses VPI and seems to really like it. He's gotten quite a few emergency visits covered for his cat, mostly for minor things. I'm not sure he's ever tried to have them pick up a tab larger than a few hundred dollars, so that could be why his experience has been so good. :p
     
  18. Electrophile

    Electrophile Working Dog Doc
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    Agreed. This is why I go with the emergency fund instead. I think we put like $200 a month automatically into a savings account or a little extra when we have extra and it's gotten up to like $3500 or so in about a year and a half. So that's money in my pocket to use for what you need (like our furnace dying in December, like it did 2 weeks ago, ouch!) when you need it. The other cool thing about having the cash to cover it is sometimes you can negotiate for a better deal because the business (the vet, the HVAC company, the car shop if something goes wrong with the car, etc) wants cash.

    Agreed also on the wining and dining thing. I go to vet product day like everybody else and I'm obligated to pass out freebies for Natura since I'm the student rep, but whether it's for Natura, Banfield, VPI, VCA, Hill's, Purina, Pfizer, Merial, whoever, just keep in mind who is doing the selling and nothing in life is free. A lot of people will say, "but I'm a smart person, I wouldn't feel obligated to recommend their product just because I got a lunch by them or a free coffee mug!" But would the companies do it if it didn't work? Hmmmm... :whistle:
     
  19. Raimes

    Raimes Third time is NOT a charm
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    I haven't had the best experiance with insurance, and of course I was dealing with equine insurance, and technically we are still fighting the insurance company, yes you have to outright pay before you can submit the claims, and it depends on what vet you are dealing with. It took over a month for this vet to fill out the paper work. And they ended up saying that it was a pre-existing condition, and were threatening to sue me for fradulent claims.

    But yet, another equine insurance company gave us basically no hassell but did not re-imburse us the full amount. We got 5,000 or so out of the 6500 we spent.

    Honestly I think pet insurance being a good thing really depends on what kind of animal your insuring and why. Yes I think it's great for emergencies, but I think insurance companies like someone said earlier are a business. They will do anything to get out of paying that money, otherwise they aren't making anything.

    I think forms can be a hassel and I worry about the amount of things you can do to be limited by the insurance companies.

    People have to choose their policies wisely.

    I know this is disjointed and a big mess.. I'm not the most eloquent of writers.
     
  20. CatVet2Be

    CatVet2Be OSU CVM c/o 2013
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    Well, I have VPI for my dog and pay around $180 per year for emergency only coverage and so far I've been satisfied with their reimbursement. I've filed 1 claim which was for a urinary infection and had a portion of the diagnostics and antibiotics reimbursed within a few weeks.

    I work as a vet tech and I mention pet insurance to all new puppy owners and make sure to give brochures to all accident prone pet owners. Especially those who own labs since they seem to be overly represented for obstruction surgeries. :rolleyes: I also live in an area where there are a lot of rattlesnakes and just one bite would make her insurance pay off since the antivenom vials are around $400-$700 each. After 2 years they'll cover a portion of a cruciate ligament surgery if she were to need it.

    For me it's peace of mind. An owner once said that thanks to Murphy's Law his dog will be perfectly fine while they have insurance but the day they don't renew it something will happen so it's a small price to pay to keep her healthy. For my cats on the other hand I figure that the amount of money I spend per year on insurance over time will be more than what one or two incidents will cost me out of pocket simply because I have 6 of them so it's not worth it financially to cover everyone. The dog on the other hand is very active and we take her with us often so she's at a higher risk for injuries.

    Overall I give 2 :thumbup: to pet insurance in general. There's few things as heartbreaking as wanting to help your pet but not being able to afford life saving treatment.
     
  21. sumstorm

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    One other note, Consumer Reports actually did an analysis about a year ago and determined that pet insurance wasn't fiscally worthwhile for most pet owners. Of course, that is how insurance works....the healthy ones cover the costs for the unhealthy ones. They advised saving the same amount in a savings account or an accessible mutual fund to cover costs, noting the same issues about cancer care as mentioned above, and that in doing so, owners would actually pay out less in the long term.

    Another thing is that if you have a vet that you work with routinely, they may be able to work out payment plans, etc. I really get upset with people who call in that have never been to our clinic or our vet (but came to the clinic 7 years ago) and want us to pull out all the stops to save thier now very sick pet who hasn't been UTD on any care for at least 5 years according to the owner, but have no money to cover costs. Now, if this was a client who had been UTD and regularly visiting, who had recently lost thier job, I know our vets would work something out with them. I have seen our vets arrange some care for drasticly cheaper costs, or even for barter.

    I think it is reasonable to discuss your care provider's attitudes towards finances and such on the first visit. We can't always do a lot to make things cheaper, but for regular clients, we will go out of our way to make sure thier dogs receive care.
     
  22. JustCats

    JustCats UC Davis SVM c/o 2013!
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    I'm one of those people for whom pet insurance is a wise decision. I've shelled out thousands of dollars to save one of my cats in the past and I know I would do the same again. I absolutely know I will use it in the future, so I don't mind paying premiums during the years I don't need it. As for having a savings account--it would take me a lot of years to save up the amount I have in coverage right now. I look upon my pet insurance as though it IS a savings account. Only I could take out more money than I have right now if I needed to.

    I have what is basically a major medical plan from PetPlan. I highly recommend them. Embrace is also very good. I went with PetPlan because 1) the coverage was cheaper--from memory, about $100 per year for a 4 year-old cat and $12,000 worth of coverage; 2) they don't have a "per illness" cap; and 3) they allow either 60 or 90 days to make a claim.

    Just google Petplan and Embrace and you'll find lots of reviews.
     
  23. kristieb1

    kristieb1 Starting Over
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    I think pet insurance is a waste of money for the most part. It doesn't cover any inherited diseases that the animal was born with, like my dog's patella luxation. He needs surgery on both needs and I can't afford it. Care credit won't cover it either because I have a low limit. I even tried giving up my rights to my dog and giving him to Maltese rescue groups - AS LONG as they paid for his surgery - but they all turned me down saying they didn't have foster homes or the funds.

    Anyways, he runs and jumps like a crazy animal :) so you can hardly tell he has any problems unless you know what to look for. But I'm real bumbed that all these pet insurance companies won't cover this stuff. He has liver problems which weren't covered either.

    In all, he has cost me over $2000+ in vet bills from all the bloodwork, ultrasounds and whatever else I had done to get his health issues diagnosed. The $2000+ doesn't include any sort of surgery. That would be another $2400 for both knees. And dumb pet insurance was no help at all. :mad:

    Yeah I'm bitter. :D
     
    #22 kristieb1, Jan 4, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2009
  24. david594

    david594 The-OSU CVM c/o 2013
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    Generally I would recommend people not buy animals with a history of congenital defects in the family.

    Where exactly did you buy(or adopt) your maltese?

    And $2400 for bilateral patella surgery sounds like a decent price to me. h
     
  25. twelvetigers

    twelvetigers stabby cat
    Veterinarian 10+ Year Member

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    I agree, that price sounds great. Standard cost seems much closer to about $1800 per knee in a small breed, and prices are much lower overall in the Midwest than in, say, California.

    I agree that's tough to pay for out-of-pocket. But, overall, better than you'd be looking at elsewhere...
     
  26. kristieb1

    kristieb1 Starting Over
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    I wasn't complaining that it was an unfair price. I know its standard. I was complaining because after paying for pet insurance and naively thinking my dog was covered if anything happened to him it turned out that every problem he ended up getting WAS NOT covered and it was very upsetting to me because for a time I thought he was going to die because he kept losing weight and vomiting daily.

    This was my first dog (I've lived with dogs for years but they were always "my mom's dog" or "my roommates" dog etc) so I knew pretty much nothing about how you are supposed to adopt from a reputable breeder (or buy a sturdy dog from a shelter!) lol.

    I got my dog as a 13 week old puppy from a family near Los Angeles. They were what you would call a 'backyard breeder' (I didn't know the difference between a backyard one and a reputable one at the time) but he was absolutely adorable and well groomed so I, again, naively had no clue there would be such serious problems in the future.

    After that fiasco I smartened up. My second Maltese was adopted as an adult from a family that had gotten her from a well known/respected breeder. They had too many animals so they needed to downsize. I wanted a friend for my male dog (he is neutered, no worries). She is so healthy and a dream. She has the most easy going laid back temperment and hardly makes a peep.

    So I've learned my lesson about where/who to adopt from. I just hate the fact that if I had a child with a hereditary disease insurance would cover his/her care, but my dog which is just as much a member of my family gets overlooked by the insurance companies.

    ETA: Oh and I don't live in CA anymore. I'm in Utah. :)
     
    #25 kristieb1, Jan 5, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2009
  27. Pandacinny

    Pandacinny VMRCVM c/o 2013
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    Yes, but as mentioned above, pet insurance is nothing like human health insurance. It's more like car insurance or home owners insurance. The parts about not covering hereditary conditions is in your policy documentation. I'm not trying to sound like a jerk here, but it's really important to read that stuff very, very closely. I'm pretty sure VPI doesn't cover hereditary stuff, and none of the companies cover conditions that showed signs before the policy started. That's all detailed in their policy info, however, which is why I never went with VPI when I was looking at it for my dog a few years ago and is a big part of the reason he doesn't have insurance now. Not every policy makes sense for every pet or owner.
     
  28. kristieb1

    kristieb1 Starting Over
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    Yes we are having a discussion about pet insurance. What I have to add to the discussion is that it needs to be reformed!! Lol Like American health care! REFORM, REFORM! :D

    I'm not saying I don't have a part in this predicament. Of course I do for adopting the wrong way and not checking out his lineage. I'm just saying IT BITES! :) It would be nice if changes could be made to doggy health insurance. :)

    ETA: It's not Hiro's fault that he has luxating patellas and intrahepatic liver shunts. Is there no mercy for a poor innocent doggy? :)
     
  29. littleinky

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    Hi Pandainnyc,

    The friend you mentioned who liked VPI only filed for accident coverage- right? I had no qualms with the 1 accident I filed with them (torn nail). That one they responded to quickly and delivered what I had thought they had promised. It was the ridiculous run around I got when my cat started developing systemic problems that made me hate VPI. I would however love to hear more posisitve expriences, from anyone else- as I do try to be as level headed about my referrals, as possible.

    (I have to wonder if their accident coverage dept is run seperately from the black hole that I was dealing with for the rest of my cat's claims. I haven't heard a bad thing, ever about their accidental coverage- and even their positive testimonials on their website are all from people dealing with tragic accidents or cancer- at least they were the last time I looked 3 years ago...)

    lilinky
     
  30. Pandacinny

    Pandacinny VMRCVM c/o 2013
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    Yes, he's only used the accident coverage but has used it multiple times over the past few years. I'm not sure exactly how much he's been reimbursed each time, but he's seemed pretty happy with it. I don't think he's ever had to use it for anything chronic - his cat is still pretty young and healthy.

    Sorry to hear you had such a bad experience, though! I'm hoping that PetPlan will turn out to be a bit better, but all these posts about bad insurance experiences are making me a little nervous about it in general. I guess I won't know unless I need to make a claim, right?
     
  31. eventualeventer

    eventualeventer Medical Tire Fire
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    I don't know squat about companion animal insurance besides what I've read here, but I don't think I will buy a horse without getting insurance! As mentioned above, the insurance companies do not deal directly with the vet except for a one-page form in which they ask for a brief summary of what was wrong, what you did, and whether it was due to negligence by the client.

    My dream horse, who was owned by a close friend, used the heck out of his insurance and they were fabulous. He had chronic lameness issues that racked up thousands of dollars worth of bills, from xrays and ultrasound to injections and shockwave to bilateral MRI's of his front feet! (around $2500) -- all told, my friend would have had to give up on fixing him much sooner. The insurance paid for all of the diagnostics and shockwave treatment (I don't think they cover joint injections, but everything else was covered). Two summers ago, he had a freak pasture accident and had to be euthanized on the spot. The vet dissected the leg afterward, sent them a report, and they sent her a check for his mortality insurance (five figures), no questions asked. It made a horrible time somewhat easier that she was not in debt for his medical bills and was able to go out and buy a young horse a couple months later to start anew and have some money for his pre-purchase exam. I know this thread is mostly not about mortality insurance, but in the horse world it can mean the difference between being able to buy another horse and not being able to.

    I know other people/have seen clients who have been able to save their beloved horses with colic surgery or treatment for an infected joint that would have cost them $10,000+ out of pocket -- insurance was the difference between life and death for these horses.

    RE: whether a person can afford a pet/horse: with so many pets/horses wanting for homes of any kind, I'm OK with people not being able to spend a ton of money on veterinary care IF they give the animal a good home until it becomes sick/injured AND they have the decency to euthanize the animal instead of neglecting the problem or only doing a half-assed job of "treating" it -- e.g., giving it systemic antibiotics for an infected joint.

    P.S. Insurance will often exclude, say, colic, or a particular leg, for a time after an incident, but I personally would not send a horse to colic surgery twice -- they seem to suffer a lot more and have more morbidity and mortality.
     
  32. sarahstudent

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    Hello All:

    Just a quick note...I like to have pet insurance as a student because it is relatively easy for me to pay small sums each month, but nearly impossible to pay several thousand if an emergency/serious illness should occur. Once I am employed and no longer a student I may rethink my pet insurance.

    Also...be sure to check out ShelterCare (also known as PetCare). They have really come through for me on all my claims, and have the widest range of plans I have seen so far, including several that cover ALL ILLNESSES and pay up to 80-90% after deductible. Whats the point in insuring an animal if your company (ahem...VPI) excludes almost all of the most expensive problems that may occur with your pet?!

    Thanks for listening and happy insurance hunting!
     

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