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Hey, I’m a current college student working on a project to help dogs get better care!

A large number of pet owners don’t go to the vet because it’s too expensive, takes forever, and is generally a huge hassle.

I think that pets will get better care if we send a vet directly to your house, so you can get immediate care with no waiting room.

Mind answering a few questions to validate this hypothesis for a school project? It should take less than a minute!

Thank you!

surveymonkey.com/r/QDHCTT8
 

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Great project! Glad to help...I hope you'll post your results!
 

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Took the survey. The last question on the survey: "would you be interested in this insurance?" I answered yes but I wold have liked to add "depending what it offers/reimburses"
 

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Some thoughts that won't fit into a survey and are worth discussing here.

There's no chance of $20 pet insurance actually being financially viable for good treatment when stuff goes seriously wrong. When stuff goes wrong, it's often thousands of dollars. A tooth repair from an injury is $2,000. Hit by car might be $2,000. Bloat is at least $3,000. Cancer is $5,000-10,000. Even treating chronic skin issues can run over $1,000 quickly. I don't think you could build an insurance model around a premium that low and still provide catastrophic care coverage. Good pet insurance that covers those things I just mentioned is $50, but I pay the (cheap) prevention stuff myself.

If you just want to cover prevention, then it's DEFINITELY not worth it -- Banfield does that kind of thing with their "wellness plans" (pre-pay a year's worth of care with a small monthly fee), and I think it's not a deal I'd be interested in. I think pet insurance is like car insurance -- they cover wrecks, I cover maintenance. I think "bad" pet insurance is worse than "no" pet insurance as it gives people false security. So either you're giving people false security, or you're unlikely to be financially solvent at that rate covering calamities. Underwriting in pet insurance is actually pretty complicated, and re-insurance may even be part of the picture. Only a few companies are doing it well IMHO. I also think that pet insurance really matters for catastrophic care -- not wellness.

Access to care is something I've thought a lot about. I oversee vet care for a rescue full of dogs in one of the poorest states in the U.S., and deal with a lot of dogs failed by owners who couldn't afford care. An excellent vet who devotes a lot of her private practice to rescue care is a good friend. I also had long-running friendships with shelter vets in a high-kill city shelter trying desperately to save lives. Another old friend runs a charity spending grant money in the poorest zip code in our city, knocking on doors of homes with dogs, and asking what they need for their pets. So I get this issue from lots of different sides, and it's something I've had lots of conversations about. I also "talk shop" with them pretty regularly about how to reduce care costs for pets in need. It's a really complicated issue.

Telemedicine is okay for minor issues -- like a picture of tapeworm segments in a pile of poop. However, most of the time you needs labs or imaging, or both when a dog is really sick. Even if you don't, there's stuff that vets can see in person that they can't on a picture. Telemedicine is better with humans who can talk with the doc about how they're feeling, but we lack that crucial info in pets, so the need for personal observations is much more important with pets. The value of telemedicine in pets also depends a lot on the experience of the owner -- I can get more value by texting my vet a pic and list of symptoms because I'm VERY experienced with observations and savvy about my dogs, but there's a lot that a new or inexperienced pet owner is simply not going to even notice to be able to tell the vet.

FWIW, I do think the "future" of veterinary medicine in the U.S. is going to be a division between the high-end (modern practices in pretty buildings in nice neighborhoods with access to specialists, cutting edge diagnostics and surgical techniques, and gold standard care, with long appointments, close client relationships and follow up, and best-of-the best care for those who can afford it)....and low-end (high-volume, low-cost, no-frills practices with short appointments, minimal investment in expensive diagnostic equipment, referring complex cases out to more sophisticated clinics).

I think the low-end will abandon the race to keep up with cutting-edge diagnostics and equipment because cost to upgrade equipment is staggering -- and the need for capital what's driving the corporatization of vet practices (Mars Petcare's swallowing up of independent practices through Banfield, and now VCA). At the lower end (and even in the middle), vets sometimes just decide to make do with old, outdated equipment...or never invest in it in the first place in a new practice.

The lowest-cost places might be in run-down or very spartan buildings in neighborhoods where property is cheap (i.e., "rough" parts of town or in remote suburbs). I'm already seeing this start of this bifurcation -- it's two different worlds emerging, as older vets retire. I think the Walmart clinics will be part of this too on the low-end -- offering cheap, basic prevention and possibly minimal illness care (kind of like a CVS Minute Clinic). The weird irony is that the one vet clinic owner who's making the most money of anyone in my city runs the ultra-low-cost, high-volume clinic in the bad part of town: he's got a huge crew of young vets working for him (often fresh out of vet school), they do 15-minute visits (and are paid in part based on productivity--more patients = more pay). They're open 7 days, see walk-ins, have a gigantic waiting room with folding chairs, a run-down facility, and crank through thousands of dogs and cats a week because they're so cheap. So the financial model does work, as long as the volume is there! Would I take my dog there? No. I don't like that style of care. Am I glad they exist? Yes.

Some thoughts that may not have occurred to you about house calls, low cost options, and telemedicine:

-farm vets make house calls routinely (city people just don't know about them) -- they're often just as willing to come treat a sick dog as a cow, and they do prevention on family dogs while they're doing prevention on the goat herd...and they tend to teach their farm clients how to do a lot of small stuff on their own. That might be a model you want to look at to compare, but it's a very different level of care (not at all what most city people expect for their pets).

-house calls definitely help those without cars (dogs can't go in cabs or on buses), but...they are practically very difficult for small animal vets who need a tech to restrain angry cats and dogs and help during some procedures (no experienced vet or tech wants to trust most owners to do that because the vet will probably end up getting bitten, not to mention many owners make their animals more anxious, not less); they often need a variety of diagnostic equipment that's impractical to always haul in a regular car, and some of the equipment is very expensive. My understanding is that it costs about $100,000 to outfit a mobile vet clinic truck capable of doing minor surgeries and routine diagnostics -- my friend's grant project looked into this, and it came out much financially feasible for her to just have volunteers help transport dogs to a low-cost clinic where all that was already in place

-house call vets currently mostly exist as "concierge"-service vets for well-to-do clients -- they have to charge MORE (not less) than clinic vets because they see fewer patients and have longer appointments (and they usually have the clinic trucks described above) -- exam fees are often double what clinic vets charge. These higher fees are essential to the business model because the travel time between patients, setting up in the home, etc. allow them to see so few patients compared to a fast-paced clinic.

-house call vets in solo practice for small animals tend to have greater risk of serious issues with their pharmacy inventory due to lower patient volume -- they pay out-of-pocket to stock commonly prescribed drugs ($$$$$), in order to have them in stock in anticipation of patients needing them, but if they're a low-volume practice and drugs expire, it's a huge financial hit

-house call vets who don't practice with a vet tech traveling with them tend to be very worried about personal safety going into people's homes -- many vets are women, and it's a scary world out there

-some vet clinics already allow drop-offs (e.g, you drop off in the AM and pick up on your lunch break) to make scheduling easier, which solves your "hassle" problem

-telemedicine "visits" are going to be regulated by state vet boards and may not be legal in some states (...or may require a pre-existing patient relationship b/c they've already seen the dog in person)

I'm very sensitive to your cost concerns. I'm also sensitive to transportation issues in places where many people don't drive.

However...you might want to do some reflection about the "hassle" part of your argument. To me, it comes across sounding almost self-indulgent, but that may be because I've heard how much many vets gets aggravated by clients who don't want to put time and effort into their pets. If that's your "market," I know many good vets who wouldn't opt-in to this kind of service.

Lastly, please also give some thought to how important the client relationship is as you think about the "hassle" argument, and telemedicine. What some young people see as a hassle is actually the chance to forge a partnership with an expert who will be with you for the life of your pet. I used to hate vet visits when I was young too. I'd "vet hop" to find a "special" or use a coupon. As I got older, wiser, and more financially secure, I realized how much benefit there is to having someone who knows me well, knows my pets well, and is there for me through thick or thin. My regular vet now stays late to keep me from having to go to a emergency vet. He's given me his cell and personal email for after-hours questions -- we already get the telemedicine part of your plan for free because we have a long-standing clinic relationship and spend so much money in the clinic. Our clinic visits are often 30 minutes, as he takes time to sit on the floor and talk to my dog to make it feel safe, and he goes slowly on the exams. And here's why that matters: on a routine vaccination visit, he happened to see an unusual dark spot in my dog's eye...he's seen this dog a thousand times, and it hadn't been there before....it turned out to be melanoma, that we caught very early (and saved the eye) because this vet KNOWS my dog and isn't in a hurry...taking his time saved my dog. We couldn't have gotten that with a quick here's-your-shot low-cost visit. How do you monetize that?!
 

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Done. It's a good idea but the questions are very basic. I hope it gets deeper as you continue to pursue the research.
 

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My regular vet is a mobile vet, i.e. she does house calls. I'd say a large number of pet owners don't go to the vet because they don't care about their pets, or notice they are unwell. Some pet owners wont want to, or are unable to wait at home during the day for a vet visit.
 

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I don't see how this would work well in the real world....for x-rays--blood tests for specific issues--ultrasound etc--you and your pet will end up in a brick and mortar building...It MAY work for the most basic of care....but for the majority of issues you'll end up at a Vets office.
I do feel very strongly that the cost of veterinary care is the reason many dogs end up in shelters or rescues.....".Oooohh honey look at the cute puppy or dog-let's get it'...only to find out down the road they can't afford to care for the dog.....the dog then ends up in a shelter or worse


I've never felt...at least with the Vets I deal with anyway.... that they -----quote :"takes forever, and is generally a huge hassle".......I don't expect my Vet to operate like a McDonalds drive thru window ...nor do I think I'm the only client they have.


If folks were smart (to many don't look further ahead than today)....when they get a new pup/dog they'd get health insurance....but only after homework and research on the various insurance companies....they're not all created equal.
BTW I don't have pet insurance.....I do have 2 senior GSDs with many "old dog" issues...think regular monthly $$ and a 5 year old Aussie who 3 full days before the 4th and including part of the 4th of July spent time at my Vet and at a critical care hospital---to the tune of $2400.....YES... I do wish I'd looked into insurance years ago but sadly I didn't
 
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I looked up the cost of the Banfield prepaid wellness plans -- it's about $25-ish per month...and includes some lab work. It includes no illness or accident coverage (or even heartworm/flea prevention RX).

I almost wonder if his idea is to be like Uber and get moonlighting "baby vets" take house calls on their days off, for a minimal compensation. I hope not, for the sake of those vets. Those young people are already so exhausted, beat up, and financially stretched. I've known some shelter vets fresh out of school who would have probably taken those low-cost house calls, unhappily, to make ends meet because they're so underpaid -- and the client would get a sleep-deprived, stressed-out soul knocking on their door. Some of them are already working two jobs to service their massive student loan debt (a full-time day job, and part-time night shifts at an e-vet clinic).

The more I think of the telemedicine angle, the more it feels to me like Gen Z's reluctance to get off their phones and start "adulting." I think that means I'm getting old!
 

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@Magwart
After that well thought out post I had to comment just so I have a notification to follow this. Wow Mag's :)
 
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I don't see how this would work well in the real world....for x-rays--blood tests for specific issues--ultrasound etc--you and your pet will end up in a brick and mortar building...It MAY work for the most basic of care....but for the majority of issues you'll end up at a Vets office.
I do feel very strongly that the cost of veterinary care is the reason many dogs end up in shelters or rescues.....".Oooohh honey look at the cute puppy or dog-let's get it'...only to find out down the road they can't afford to care for the dog.....the dog then ends up in a shelter or worse


I've never felt...at least with the Vets I deal with anyway.... that they -----quote :"takes forever, and is generally a huge hassle".......I don't expect my Vet to operate like a McDonalds drive thru window ...nor do I think I'm the only client they have.


If folks were smart (to many don't look further ahead than today)....when they get a new pup/dog they'd get health insurance....but only after homework and research on the various insurance companies....they're not all created equal.
BTW I don't have pet insurance.....I do have 2 senior GSDs with many "old dog" issues...think regular monthly $$ and a 5 year old Aussie who 3 full days before the 4th and including part of the 4th of July spent time at my Vet and at a critical care hospital---to the tune of $2400.....YES... I do wish I'd looked into insurance years ago but sadly I didn't
I feel compelled to add to this that pet insurance in the US may be a better deal then in other countries. Insurance for Shadow was quoted at about $100/mo, $400 deductible and I pay up front then they decide whether or not to reimburse me, and how much. Lots of things they do not cover and cheaper plans cover less.
I went a different route and got a cc specifically for her, it sits in my safe at home and I have money transferred to a savings account monthly that is affectionately referred to as Shadows account. I also build relationships with vets and they know that major expenses will require a payment plan.
 

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I have little knowledge on this, and other members have this topic pretty well covered. I will say, though, my friend has five cats, and when they all got sick with something, it was impossible for her to take all five of them to the vet. Four of the five are phobic of the vet, so just taking one is hard enough.

So, she shopped around for quite a few days trying to find a vet that would come to her house. After talking with three different mobile vets for a few days, only one of them consistently responded to her emails or calls. She had tried to schedule an appointment with two previously who never got back to her.

A vet finally came to the house, but they could not do a single thing because the cats freaked out and would escape and hide in the house. My friend got some very nasty cuts from the cat claws, and the vet and vet tech got multiple bites, but the bites weren't bad at all. Basically, my friend paid $500 for the vet to say, "Sorry, we can't do anything. Take them in to a clinic where they can a) sedate them, b) keep them locked in a small room so they can't escape, and c) do x-rays and take blood work." My friend paid ridiculous amounts of money for absolutely nothing. She then had to go in to an actual clinic anyway. And it was a PITA to find a vet that would even come to the house or respond to her messages. All of that for nothing but lots of money!
 
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Mobile vets here are more expensive because they can’t see as many animals. Vets have to pay off student loans, the cost of setting up an office and equipment. They have to have malpractice insurance and they have fixed expenses. I don’t see how they can be any less expensive and still offer quality care. Cities or counties sometimes offer low cost speutering and shots, but other care costs. I think it’s a good idea to look into it but totally unrealistic.
 

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What a strange simple survey. As far as vets coming to my house? That's called "house calls." My vet does that already if I wanted. And I also have access to mobile vets if necessary. And within a 5 mile radius, there's probably 25-50 vet offices. (I live in the suburbs outside of DC.) If one is busy, I just go to the next. I'm wary of 20 bucks per month insurance, especially since if I wanted to get insurance it'd be about 50 bucks per month. I gotta agree with some of the people above. This just seems like a bad idea.
 

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I have little knowledge on this, and other members have this topic pretty well covered. I will say, though, my friend has five cats, and when they all got sick with something, it was impossible for her to take all five of them to the vet. Four of the five are phobic of the vet, so just taking one is hard enough.

So, she shopped around for quite a few days trying to find a vet that would come to her house. After talking with three different mobile vets for a few days, only one of them consistently responded to her emails or calls. She had tried to schedule an appointment with two previously who never got back to her.

A vet finally came to the house, but they could not do a single thing because the cats freaked out and would escape and hide in the house. My friend got some very nasty cuts from the cat claws, and the vet and vet tech got multiple bites, but the bites weren't bad at all. Basically, my friend paid $500 for the vet to say, "Sorry, we can't do anything. Take them in to a clinic where they can a) sedate them, b) keep them locked in a small room so they can't escape, and c) do x-rays and take blood work." My friend paid ridiculous amounts of money for absolutely nothing. She then had to go in to an actual clinic anyway. And it was a PITA to find a vet that would even come to the house or respond to her messages. All of that for nothing but lots of money!
Another reason I prefer dogs. :wink2:
 

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I am blessed to use farm vets. They come out and doctor horses, cows, cats, dogs, fish, and might even stay for lunch. Once I took a sick chicken over to the clinic of a farm vet- cost- $5. Then he retired and I had to take my sick pet chickens to the city vet- $350. And this was back in the 1990s. Yes vet care has become ridiculously expensive. It is almost as much as human medical care and there is no Medicaid program for dogs.
 
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