May 29, 2017
Health & Fitness
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Are You And Your Pet Ready For The Unexpected?

Christine Calvert
Christine Calvert's picture
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May 18, 2017

It is a well-known fact that pets keep humans healthier. Pets are part of the family in most households, which means they sleep in our beds, sit on our couches, and get lots of love and attention. Pet ownership has many medical, emotional and psychological benefits. Many of us can relate to our pets staying by our side when we or a loved one were recuperating from an illness or injury. But what if your pet became seriously ill or had a life-threatening injury? Would you be able to take care of your pet like they take care of you when you are ill?

Advanced medical care and improved technology are available for pets, allowing your veterinarian to provide better treatment; however, that can, in some situations, present a higher price tag, too. For instance, surgery for a ruptured disk in the back can cost between $5,000 and $7,000. Cruciate ligament surgery is often $4,000-$5,000 per knee. Chemotherapy treatments for cancer can exceed $10,000 to $20,000 for a course of treatment. Most families are not prepared to take on this type of expense without additional help.

Pet insurance could be the answer to keeping your pets healthy when the unexpected happens. There are many benefits of pet insurance plans. Pet insurance allows you to pick your veterinarian. Unlike human health insurance policies that may require you to use a specific health care provider, pet insurance policies allow you to obtain care from the veterinarian of your choice. You simply provide the veterinary bill to the insurance company for reimbursement of qualified expenses. In addition to care at your primary veterinarian, pet insurance can be used for specialist and emergency room visits.

Pet insurance does not discriminate against any breed or age of pet. While it is advisable to obtain pet insurance as soon as you adopt or acquire your pet to obtain lower premiums, you can also insure your pet years later.

Pet insurance delivers peace of mind. Having pet insurance allows you to choose treatments for your ailing or injured pet based on the best medical option available and not worry about being restricted based on family finances. Most pet insurance policies reimburse up to 80 to 90 percent of costs.

Pet insurance provides an easy way to budget pet care costs. Pet insurance policies can be paid monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually. You decide which payment plan works best for you. Most plans even offer discounts for additional pets in the household. Also, many companies now offer pet insurance as an additional benefit to their employees.

Pet insurance prevents dipping into your family’s emergency fund. True, you can set up a pet savings account, but it can be tough to refrain from dipping into this designated account when you face pricey car repairs, household renovations or other major unexpected expenses.

Perhaps the greatest advantage to pet insurance coverage is that it can save — and extend — the life of your pet by enabling you to authorize the medical treatment your pet needs should they develop a serious illness or require surgery.

It is essential to understand the difference between pet insurance and wellness plans that may be offered through other veterinary facilities. The major differences are in initial cost, predictability of expenses, selection of veterinary services and your veterinarian’s ability to provide the services. Below are advantages and disadvantages of both options.

Pet Insurance

Advantages

·         Can help pet owners budget costs for wellness care and additional care related to injury or illness.

·         Can be used at any veterinary facility, including your primary veterinarian, specialists (internal medicine services, cardiology, specialty surgery) and emergency after-hours care facilities.

·         Depending on the plan purchased, pet insurance can cover wellness visits and injury or illnesses. Many plans cover 80 to 90 percent of the costs for your veterinarian’s services for preventative care or further treatment if your pet is sick or injured. However, there are plans available with lower monthly premiums that can limit coverage to only unexpected costs if your pet is sick or injured (similar to a major medical plan in humans).

·         Allows pet owners to make the best medical decisions for their pets based on the best medical and surgical practices without having to make the decision based on finances alone.

Disadvantages

·         Pet owners pay for veterinary services at the time of the visit, and the pet insurance will reimburse pet owners. Oftentimes, the reimbursement only takes 10 to 14 days, which is typically before that credit card bill is due.

·         Some insurance plans have a deductible to meet, so look for plans without that requirement.

·         Pre-existing conditions may not be covered, so it is important to get a plan early in your pet’s life, before your pet has any health concerns. Look for plans that will provide coverage for chronic conditions if they are found after your pet has pet insurance in place.

Wellness Plans

Advantage

·         Can help pet owners budget costs of wellness care.

Disadvantages

·         Can only be used at the primary veterinarian and do not cover emergency or specialist veterinary care.

·         Only cover check-ups, vaccines and some preventative care. The plans do not cover care related to an injury or illness (for example, skin or ear infection, limping, vomiting, diarrhea).

·         Require initiation fees and can sometimes be difficult to cancel if you are not satisfied with your coverage.

Christine Calvert is the owner and Chief of Staff Veterinarian at Calvert Veterinary Center. Many companies offer pet insurance and most offer various plans within their company. Calvert Veterinary Center has experience with several different plans and companies and can help you choose the right pet insurance plan for you and your pets. So don’t leave Fido and Fluffy out when you are providing protection for your family. For more information on how to protect your four-legged family member, call Calvert Veterinary Center at 410-360-7297 or email staff@calvertvet.com.


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