Pet Health Insurance

By: Jennifer Hennessey, DVM

TVMA Member
Cypress, TX.

Published December 2016

Today, more than two-thirds of society consider their pets full-fledged family members. As priceless as these relationships are, there is still a price for fur-babies’ medical care. How prepared are you to care for your companion if it is faced with a veterinary emergency?

Costs of Medical Care

The cost of medical care should be a factor when you consider becoming a pet owner, not just for the initial needs but also for the life of that pet. The average yearly expense on preventative health care will range from $600 to $800 and that does not include the costs of food, treats, toys or grooming. Beyond that budget, the cost to care for a four-legged family member can quickly rise if the pet is faced with sudden illness or an unexpected accident. For instance, a pet can injure itself from a fall, swallow food or an item that is not meant for digestion or accidentally lick a poison.

How Pet Insurance Works

While two-legged family members benefit from health insurance because it helps reduce the upfront costs at doctor visits and in the emergency room, insurance works differently for our four-legged family members. Most pet insurance options are reimbursement policies. Policies have a yearly premium that can be paid monthly, and the average cost ranges between $30 to $50 per month. Policies will have a deductible and may have a cap on the benefits covered as well as on the amount paid as reimbursements. They also can be selected for wellness, illness care or both. Plans typically have limitations to coverage, such as defined pre-existing illness and grooming needs. While it’s best to choose a policy upon the adoption of your furry friend or when it is a puppy or kitten, you can seek quotes and policies at any point of the pet’s life. Pet medical insurance can be utilized based on the specifics of your selected plan to help your family save on some of your pet’s yearly health care costs.

How You Save More on Pet Insurance

Deciding if you need a policy and where to purchase it from can be an overwhelming ordeal. Many pet owners put pet medical care coverage on the backburner rather than research how it may work in their budget. Unfortunately, many pet parents who receive health care recommendations after their pet’s sudden illness or emergency experience the feelings of “should’ve, could’ve, would’ve.” A sick pet that requires several days of medical care or hospitalization can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. When weighing the cost of a monthly fee for your policy, the numbers might be in your favor when you consider the savings on routine care with the partial reimbursement of emergency care.

Savings Accounts Prepare for Extra Expenses

The downfall of pet insurance and major difference from your “human policy” is that you pay upfront for emergency and major medical care even though your pet is insured. After your veterinary visit, you will submit the invoice along with a medical care claim form and receive a reimbursement for a portion of the expenses depending on policy details. This means you must plan ahead of time for your furry friends by having some ability to afford veterinary attention at the time care is needed. A health savings account or organized portion of funds set aside can help reduce financial stress when your pet needs a check-up or emergency care.

With all of the time and thought that goes into choosing your pet’s food, chew toys and beds, consider investing time toward planning for your pet’s veterinary health care needs. Take a few minutes to talk with your veterinarian about the options you have for pet medical care insurance. Creating your family’s health safety net is not easy, but with the right information, you can make the healthiest choices for all your family members, two-legged and four. With year-round medical care, you can ensure Fido will not just sit and stay but will sit and stay for years to come!

For more pet health insurance information, please visit these websites:

Jennifer Hennessey, DVM, CVJ, is a graduate of Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine who lives in Cypress, Texas. Dr. Hennessey practices at Animal ER of Northwest Houston, where she is the practice owner.

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