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I'm sure this question has been asked before and if someone can point me to the link of existing discussions, please do, but since my family is bringing home a new pup in the next month (to join with our 8.5 yr old male), I've been wondering if pet health insurance is worth the cost?

Our male has started requiring more expensive treatments, as we battle an ongoing yeast/allergy issue. I know puppies require routine vet attention for the first year +, so I'm thinking the insurance might defray the cost.

Does anyone out there use it? How has it worked for you? Have you had any surprises when it comes to coverage?

Thanks,

Leslie
 

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After posting this inquiry, I did some searching on the boards and found past discussions about the merits of pet insurance. While surfing the web, I also came across this article from ConsumerReports.Org, from July 2003. Interesing read for anyone who has pet insurance or who is thinking about getting it. I've made up my mind......


Is pet insurance worth the price?

The most important thing you need to know about pet insurance is that it is a form of enforced savings that almost never covers the entire bill. You can accomplish the same thing by paying the same monthly premium to your savings account.

The advantage: If your pet has little cause to visit a vet beyond annual checkups, the amount saved belongs to you, not an insurance company. The risk, of course, is if you run into unusually expensive veterinary needs, though our money-saving tips show how to avoid or reduce those (see 20 ways to cut vet costs).

The problem with pet insurance is all its fine-print pitfalls. Indeed, buying a policy may end up increasing a pet owner's total expenditures on veterinary care by thousands of dollars, according to our analysis of five plans. That's because on top of deductibles required by all the insurers, plus any co-pays, unreimbursed costs, and exclusions--all of which you pay out-of-pocket--you also pay premiums. Seemingly small $11 to $50 per-month premiums can add up to $2,000 to $6,000 or more over a pet's lifetime.

"That's quite a bit of money to shell out ‘just in case,'" says Dr. David Lee, a lecturer on practice management at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine. "A lot of pets go for many years living a long healthy life without ever needing a $1,000 to $2,000 procedure."

Poor value may help to explain why less than 1 percent of pet owners have bought pet insurance.

To assess this insurance, we created "Lucky," an Oakland, Calif., Labrador retriever, the most popular of purebreds, and gave him some of the most common problems that vets see. We then calculated the benefits that a selection of policies would pay and the premiums Lucky's owner would bear over 11 years.

The results appear in the table below.

COMMON AILMENTS: Pet insurance is no bargain


"Lucky" had 9 claims over 11 years--a broken leg, an ear infection, a cut requiring stitches, an eye infection, hypothyroidism requiring years of drug claims, and a torn knee ligament. Total cost of care: $3,301. The insurance plans below would have cost Lucky's owners an extra $497 to $3,380 for care.

Cost of care Savings (or extra cost)
with insurance


WITHOUT INSURANCE Cost is total vet bill.

Directly to vet $3,301 -



WITH INSURANCE Cost includes co-payments, deductibles, and premiums.

PetsHealth Care Basic 3,798 ($497)

Veterinary Pet Insurance Standard 3,852 (551)

Pet Care QuickCare Gold 4,707 (1,406)

Veterinary Pet Insurance Superior 4,903 (1,602)

Pet Care QuickCare
Gold Double Benefits 6,681 (3,380)

Sources:VPI, Pet Care, PetsHealth Care


MAJOR PROBLEMS: Some plans may save you money


If Lucky had the problems described in the chart above over 11 years plus needed major surgery such as hip replacement, the total cost of his care would have been $10,414. Three plans in our study would have paid more in benefits than Lucky's owners would have paid in total costs. But because this scenario is unlikely, a savings account is still a better option.

Cost of care Savings (or extra cost)
with insurance


WITHOUT INSURANCE Cost is total vet bill./div>

Directly to vet $10,414 -



WITH INSURANCE Cost includes co-payments, deductibles, and premiums.

Pet Care QuickCare Gold Double Benefits 7,794 $2,620

Pet Care QuickCare Gold 8,820 1,594

PetsHealth Care Basic 9,411 1,003

Veterinary Pet
Insurance Standard 10,965 (551)

Veterinary Pet Insurance
Superior 12,016 (1,602)

Sources: VPI, Pet Care, PetsHealth Care





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I am a hold out on pet insurance. It used to be that no one had health insurance. The cost of medicine was fairly low. A hospital stay might mean regular payments for a while. With insurance, a broken arm can cost thousands of dollars. Medicine has improved and diagnostic testing has helped us immensely (I work in the industry) but the cost is high too.

Sometimes, I think that the cost is high because of insurance companies and the AMA working hand in hand. How come is it that when you go to the doctor you get a bill of $130, the insurance company says reasonable customary is $78, so they have you pay that, and it is deducted from your deductable amount. Another scenario is when you go to the doctor about recurrent UTIs and they decide to do an exploratory surgery that costs 6K, if you say up front that you do not have insurance, they give you antibiotics (samples) and tell you to drink cranberry juice.

The point is that if Pet Insurance gets to be the up and coming thing, veterinary costs may rise to a point where you cannot afford to be without pet insurance. An an ordinary visit that costs 30-60 dollars now, may be hundreds of dollars.

I also may be in the minority on this, but I do not necessarily believe that every dog should have every surgery that a vet suggests. If you seven year old dog needs a hip surgery fine, he has a good chance at making a full recovery, and many more years too. If your 12 year old bitch has mammary tumors, I say let them be. If they are cancerous, then when the dog is uncomfortabel it is time to help her go.

It is a sad thing if you have to put a young dog with a good prognosis down because of funds. If that is your concern, then maybe pet insurance will give you peace of mind.
 

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We'll be getting insurance for our next dog. In the last several years we have spent thousands on pet care, and we always go for a conservative approach. We used to joke about how expensive our "cheap pound dog" was. Now that we've gone through so much with our puppy, its not so funny. Take a look at the health issues section and see how many issues people deal with. With our puppy, we've had giardia, sibo, a degloving, more sibo, and just spent another $600 this week to determine whether or not she needs a $3700 surgery.

At 16 months old, she's spent just under half of her life on medication of some kind.
 

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I have VPI pet insurance for Molly and have had it since we brought her home at 8 weeks of age. It came in handy when we had to make a trip to the emergency vet due to an allergic reaction to a bug bite and when she ended up injuring herself in doggy daycare and racked up around $500 in vet bills It is also nice to have it cover some of her routine yearly vet care. The downfall to VPI is that it does not cover any genetic issues or what they consider to be genetic issues. So if anything happen to go wrong with her hips, VPI would considert that a genetic trait for a GSD since they are prone to having hip problems and any treatment for that would not be covered. Molly has SIBO and if I remember correctly, VPI did not cover the costs for her diagnostic tests. There are other insurances out there that I believe cover almost everything, but I'm not sure how costly they are. So far, we have been lucky and really have not had too many health issues with Molly and overall I have been happy with our insurance. I'm glad we have it.
 
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