Monday, February 4, 2008

Pet Insurance

I was reading a magazine the other day and came across an advertisement for HomeAgain microchipping ( They now offer up to $3,000 of pet medical insurance if your pet gets injured while he is lost. They are not the only company to make such an offer: VPI ( gives you a collar tag when you sign up for insurance. If your pet comes into my hospital without you, I can call VPI, verify that the coverage is current and begin to treat your pet while they attempt to contact you. The ASPCA also has pet insurance ( ). Even the Kroger grocery store when I shop has a pet insurance plan! Most of the basic plans are very affordable, carry only a modest deductable($50-100) and have a fairly generous benefit schedule (the ASPCA plan for example covers each accident up to $2500, $8000 yearly benefit for about $100 for a dog). Many of these plans exclude diseases the dog was born with, but you can get plans that cover vaccinations, spay/neuter, teeth cleanings, and yearly blood work. Some even offer rebates on heartworm prevention and flea control.

Now, I don’t get anything for selling you insurance. You may say that I do benefit from the insurance because I can run up the bill. This begs the question, if you think I am doing that, why are you bringing your pet to me? If you truly feel that your veterinarian is running up the bill you should change doctors. Do you think he only lies to them? Too many of us put animals down because the owners can’t pay to have them treated. Too many pets suffer needlessly because the owners can’t/won’t pay for the proper tests to achieve a diagnosis. Too many veterinarians don’t offer the full diagnostics because they fear the clients will get angry with them.

Let me give you a scenario I see over and over (and over and over!). Person brings a dog into the hospital with a “lump”. The veterinarian says, “It’s just a lipoma, we can take that off and the dog will be good a new.” The veterinarian takes the dog to surgery, removes the mass and throws the tissue into the garbage! How would feel if this was you on the table? You underwent anesthesia, someone cut you open and then instead of finding out what was wrong with you, the doctor just through the tumor into the trash. And yes, lipomas are tumors. About 1 in 100,000 is malignant. Now with insurance, it’s the same price to you if throw the tumor n the trash or I send the mass to a pathologist and she tells me if further treatment is necessary, or if your dog is now cancer free. Where’s the down side to this for the dog? And what do I make on the deal? An extra $30. But more importantly, I get to sleep at night knowing I did the best I could for my patient. That’s why I want you to have insurance.

One last thing: my practice takes Care Credit ( as well. This allows people to pay over time when a sudden emergency occurs (up to 18 months with no interest in some cases). Many dentists take this medical credit card also. When you combine the Care Credit card with the insurance, you can pay with the Care Credit card and pay no interest until the insurance check comes in. Then, you just pay off the Care Credit bill. Top-notch treatment for your pet without worrying about your financial health, that’s really what most veterinarian want.

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