As the name implies, pet health insurance is much like health insurance for people: you pay a regular monthly fee called a ?premium? and the insurance policy provides monetary reimbursement for the treatment of specified types of health conditions and illnesses sometimes suffered by our pets. Health insurance for people is essential, because of the likelihood of need for some form of expensive medical treatments during the course of life and because of the relative cost of some of those treatments. However, the choice to purchase pet health insurance is not always necessarily the right decision from the standpoint of straightforward arithmetic. According to independent analyses considered by ConsumerReports.Org in 2010, the entire cost of veterinary care required throughout the lifetime of most healthy pets is likely to be less than the total amount of money spent on health insurance premiums for those pets.
Nevertheless, pet health insurance may be a very good investment for some pets. For example, working dogs and dogs involved in competitive sports are much more prone to traumatic physical injury and chronic injuries than sedentary house pets. If the total cost of all of the monthly premiums for the entire 5-year period that an active dog participates in competitions (for example) is significantly less than the likely cost of treating a broken leg or serious soft-tissue injury (cartilage or ligament tears, etc.), then pet insurance might be a good idea, at least while your pet is extremely physically active. The advisability of health insurance for your pet also depends quite a bit on your pet?s behavioral habits. For instance, a dog that has unsupervised access to more land might be at greater risk of being bitten or attacked by another animal or of suffering some other physical injury that would require surgical repair at a veterinary hospital or, in the worst scenario, at the 24-hour emergency veterinary clinic. Dogs that frequently swallow foreign objects are obviously at much greater risk of suffering gastrointestinal emergencies than dogs that do not chew or swallow foreign objects. We try to encourage all of our cat owners to make their cats indoor cats, but if you choose to allow your cat outdoors, your pet will certainly encounter more potential dangers and threats to its health and wellbeing than indoor cats. Recognizing all of these factors should help you to conduct a simple pet health insurance risk/benefit/cost analysis.
Just like health insurance for people, most pet insurance policies offer different options of coverage levels. That means, to determine whether pet health insurance makes sense in your situation, you must always consider the level of coverage that corresponds to the types of health care you anticipate that your pet might need. For example, if your primary concern is coverage for injuries, you would consider the cost of the lowest coverage level that includes accidental injury. Many pet insurance plans exclude (meaning they do not cover) congenital or hereditary health problem; others do provide coverage, but only at the higher coverage levels. The same is true for pre-existing conditions, dental care, and health care for older pets. Pre-existing conditions exclusions are important in your risk/benefit/cost analysis because they determine whether your pet?s care is covered for conditions for which your pet has previously been treated. Some pet health insurance plans (or levels of coverage within those plans) cover routine dental cleaning, others do not. Some exclude older pets or charge higher premiums for the same level of coverage for older pets than they do for younger pets.
Typically, your local veterinarian or veterinary hospital can tell you what kinds of congenital or hereditary conditions or ailments are most common in your species (and breed) of pet. While it is impossible ever to predict the future health of every pet, understanding the known potential health issues affecting different types of pets based on physiology and behavior can help you compare health insurance premium costs to the cost of treating those specific kinds of health problems if they should arise in the life of your pet.
Dr. Paul has a strong interest in avian and exotic animal medicine and surgery, as well as small animal internal medicine and surgery.
He has provided services for numerous breeders, kennels, aviaries, and mini zoos.