If you are forced to decide whether to pay your mortgage or cover the cost of your pet’s cancer treatment, keeping your sanity—and your heart—intact is likely impossible. However, with the skyrocketing rise in pet health insurance popularity, a vast many options are available that can help you shoulder the financial burden of your best friend’s health care.

Choosing and purchasing a comprehensive health insurance policy when you first welcome home your new pet is the best way to provide for your pet well into old age, and to protect them from debilitating diseases, because no health insurance providers will cover pre-existing conditions. Learn about the differences pet health insurance can make in your four-legged friend’s life—and your wallet—in the following scenarios.  

Insured versus uninsured

  • The insured Beowulf the Great Dane’s tale begins when he was a teenage pup with a bad habit of gulping his food, eager to consume everything in his dish in record time. One day, he devoured his food with his usual greed, and then decided the time was perfect for a high-energy burst around the house. However, exercise with a full belly was not a good choice, and Beowulf soon paid for his antics with a bloated tummy that was more than the typical swollen belly of overindulgence. Poor Beowulf attempted to vomit with no success, so his panicked family rushed him to the nearest emergency veterinary hospital. 

At the hospital, Beowulf was diagnosed with gastric dilation volvulus (GDV), a condition common in giant-breed dogs that requires emergency surgery to correct a life-threatening twist in the stomach that obstructs blood flow to the abdominal organs. When presented with the treatment plan, Beowulf’s family didn’t bat an eye at the projected cost, because they had purchased comprehensive health insurance for their pup the day they brought him home. Beowulf’s family had purchased not only life-saving protection for their pet, but also peace of mind for such emergencies, and needed to cover only the deductible and a share of the expenses for the costly surgery.

  • The uninsured The same evening that Beowulf entered the emergency hospital, a cat named Lucky experienced a critical situation. A young male kitty prone to feline idiopathic cystitis, Lucky had developed a urinary blockage, which can rapidly turn fatal if not resolved. Quickly recognizing their cat’s distress signs, since this was the third time Lucky had “blocked,” his family rushed him to the hospital. Unfortunately, Lucky’s family couldn’t scrape together the deposit they needed for their pet’s treatment, since the two prior emergency surgeries to unblock Lucky’s urinary tract had drained their savings account. They were forced to make the heartbreaking decision of humane euthanasia, based on financial limitations. 

The benefits of pet health insurance

In addition to financially assisting you in providing life-saving care for your beloved pet, health insurance helps in a variety of medical situations, based on your coverage level. Potential coverage options include:

  • Wellness care — Routine preventive care coverage, such as physical exams, vaccinations, and regular diagnostic testing can be included in your policy.
  • Prescriptions — Whether your pet has a chronic condition or simply needs heartworm, flea, and tick prevention, your policy can help cover pharmaceutical costs.
  • Elective or essential surgery — Elective surgeries (e.g., your pet’s spay or neuter) can be covered, along with mass removals, orthopedic surgeries, abdominal exploratory procedures, and other essential surgeries.
  • Dental care — The majority of pets will suffer from dental disease in their lifetime, so dental care is a necessity, and policy coverage can help mitigate the costs.
  • Specialist and alternative care — Pets who require specialty care from a professional, such as an oncologist or dermatologist, can enjoy insurance coverage.
  • Accidents and injuries — Catastrophic coverage is a key benefit of health insurance, since accidents, illnesses, and injuries are impossible to plan for, and treatment can be expensive.

Here at Gentle Touch Animal Hospital, we recommend Trupanion health insurance for our patients. Highlights of a Trupanion insurance policy include:

  • Lifetime pet coverage — Your pet’s policy does not renew annually, and won’t preclude coverage for any “pre-existing” condition. Once your pet’s chronic illness is granted coverage, it’s covered for life.
  • 90% coverage — After your deductible, Trupanion pays 90% of your pet’s treatment costs. 
  • No limit to the amount paid — Trupanion puts no cap on the amount they will pay out over your pet’s lifetime, no matter how high their medical costs.
  • Pay only one deductible per condition — If your pet has a chronic illness, you won’t get stuck paying a deductible that renews every year. Once the deductible for that condition is met, 90% of eligible expenses are covered for the rest of your pet’s life. 
  • Direct payment at the time of service — Whether your pet receives emergency care at an overnight hospital or wellness care with our team, Trupanion pays the hospital directly when you check out.

Although pet health insurance is not nearly as convoluted as human health insurance, determining the coverage your pet needs, and the benefits you’d like included in your furry pal’s policy, can be challenging. Ask us for help unraveling the mysteries of pet health insurance, and for assistance making the best choice for your pet.