Dog Health Insurance Crisis

Hardly a day goes by that a news story isn’t reported in the print and broadcast media about the health care crisis in America and the millions of people who don’t have any or adequate health insurance.

As a result, many of these folks avoid or skip routine and more serious healthier appointments and many simply don’t go a doctor at all unless it is an absolute emergency.

It’s no wonder that millions of dogs are similarly uncovered. If we have a health crisis there are facilities and hospitals that will treat us, even admit us for hospitalization without a lick of insurance. Even a homeless person can show up at county supported hospitals and are readily admitted when called for.

Not so for Fido. Veterinarians are frequently reluctant to admit a pet for care unless payment arrangements have been made by the pet guardian. This is not as unfeeling as it may seem.  Serious illnesses and/or injuries can cost thousands of dollars in time, resources,and medication. Once treated, there is no recourse for collecting an unpaid bill from the pet that the vet has as an option. So the only choice is to insist on payment at the time of service from the pet guardian.

On this site I told the story of my best friend of 8 years, Bri, a sweet, loyal and loving Chihuahua-Pomeranian mix that we had adopted from a local animal shelter. Bri’s unexpected illness cost several thousand dollars.

If confronted with the same sort of healthcare crisis again for any of my dogs I would gladly hand over the last dollar I could beg, borrow or steal.

After Bri’s passing, I began to think about all the dogs whose lives had been shortened and the families that had been cheated out of the best years that they could have experienced together.

The Tragic Result

Because many dog lovers simply don’t have the funds to pay for veterinary care, many a serious illness is left untreated, many a loving dog is euthanized as an “economical alternative” and many more dogs die an untimely and early death that is avoidable with a little advance planning.

I swore then that I would so anything and everything possible to get the word out and help people prepare for regular health care bills from the vet and unexpected illnesses and emergencies which could be financially catastrophic.

You Don’t Have to Learn the Hard Way

 

The Dog Health Insurance Solution

A number of alternatives are readily available with a little planning. Insurance is just one of them.

  •  Save ahead– Set up a special savings account that is not to be touched for any reason other than doggy health care. Treat it like the old fashion Christmas Clubs that banks used to offer working families forty years ago. make a commitment to save a certain amount, say $1000. within the next 12 months. Every month deposit $85 and you will meet your goal with a little to spare. Don’t cheat and don’t skip months. If you think something else is more important just take a look at your pal wagging his tale and ask yourself if his life is worth the effort

  •  Get a credit card that is to be used ONLY for veterinary visits and emergencies. Get as high a limit as you can…you’re not going to use it unless you have to

  • Make arrangements now with your veterinarian for a payment plan. Discuss how much you can pay at office visits and how much you can pay if there is an emergency. And be clear as to how you will pay the balance. For example, I can pay at least $100. if we come in for an emergency and $100. per month on the balance until paid. The vet will be your creditor at that point so it is important to be clear and sincere. Many vets will work with you. If yours doesn’t, you may need to see another vet. No matter how wonderful your vet is, he/she can’t help your pet if money keeps you away from the front door of the animal hospital.

  • Some veterinary offices maintain an emergency fund to care for dogs in need. Ask your vet if they have such a fund and if you qualify if the need arises.

  •  Non profit organizations such as Help-a-Pet provide financial assistance for those unable to pay. Check with your local animal shelter, rescues and ask your vet for any information about other such groups in your area.

  • Discount plans such as Pet Assure, our preference, exist which are less costly that regular insurance programs and can help take the bite out veterinary bills

  • Canine Insurance–   Not a new phenomenon, dog health insurance has been available for almost 20 years. Similar to human insurance policies; annual premiums, deductibles, and different coverage plans based on what the owner chooses.

  • Plans are based on age, pre-existing conditions, species and other factors. Coverage can begin for young puppies under 2 months of age or younger and may cease to be eligible for dogs not insured by their 8th birthday.

  • Some companies will insure dogs with pre-existing conditions.

  • Prices vary depending upon coverage and plan much as for human insurance. Coverage can be limited to accident and illness or can be as inclusive as to cover regular office visits. Be sure to ask about multi-dog discounts.

  • Health insurance or benefit coverage is essential to your dogs longevity. Jennifer Stone Information Specialist, University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine tells us that Pet Insurance May Help Keep Pets Healthy. Read the article, then take action Today!

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