Working in practice, pet insurance claims forms are becoming increasingly familiar to vets. And, while no-one likes additional paperwork, there are some definite benefits to having insured patients. While many of us have concerns about the pet insurance industry at large (everyone’s out to make a dollar, right?) there are some good policies available that make my life in practice easier.
Many pet insurance companies have used ‘economic euthanasia’ as one of the underpinning reasons for having pet insurance. In short, economic euthanasia describes a situation where costs of diagnosis or treatment start to rise above a threshold figure (studies indicate around $500) where many people have to elect to euthanize their pet on a purely financial basis. While this is obviously every pet-owner’s nightmare I think the value of pet insurance is even more basic than this. Any of you that have had a sick pet in the last few years will know that $500 doesn’t go very far any more at the vet’s office. I can name a handful of common illnesses that would cost above that figure to properly diagnose and treat appropriately for one day; foreign body ingestion, severe diarrhea or vomiting, poisoning (and that includes chocolate!), broken bones…. And these are common, everyday illnesses! We haven’t even started getting into chronic diseases (diabetes, thyroid disease, Cushing’s disease) or those requiring advanced diagnostics (MRIs for intervertebral disc disease, endoscopy for gastrointestinal disorders, etc).
I guess what it boils down to is that when I have someone in my examining room and offer them the options on Fido or Fluffy’s diagnostics and treatment, I want them to be able to make a decision independent of whether this means they have to dip into savings or college funds or rack up credit card debt. I’m tired of watching people make decisions based on finances. I’m tired of not being able to give the best care available. So, from a purely selfish point of view and for your vet’s sake, take the time to look carefully at pet insurance and get the best health care for your pet.