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Nik

Pet Insurance?!?!?!

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I've been looking online at pet insurance. Do any of you guys & gals have it? Is it worth the extra monthly expense to pay for it?

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We got it a year ago and haven't used it yet, but we are training in Agility (hope to start competing in a few months) and we're active, and compared to the cost of care for a serious injury like an ACL tear, it seems worth it to us.

But it would depend on what your dog does that might put it at greater risk than the average couch potato, and your financial resources.

Deanna in OR

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I got it in September and Dublin has had numerous trips to the vet, so I am thankful for the coverage. (I just mailed out about $800 worth of bills today...if I only get reimbursed for half, I am still ahead of the game.)

I get VPI insurance, but there are a bunch of different providers out there.

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if molly hadnt have been insured, i would have had a very difficult decision to make. her bill has come to nearly ?2000, and i just cant find that kind of money. granted the poor love didnt pull through, but at least the insurance allowed me to give her every chance.
that said, if you are good with money, you may be better off putting the money into a seperate bank account for a doggie emergency fund. certainly if i added up all of my dogs and cats premiums over the years, and subtracted the claim for molly (this was the first time in 7 years i have needed to claim), i would have had a whole lot of money left over. however, i am crap with money, so i have the insurance for my own piece of mind.

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We have petcare for Tiga and we have sent in some claims because of his allergies and got most of it back. I think it's worth it especially if something big happens. We were a little unsure at first until we sent away the first claim. I highly recommend it!

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It really depends on your personal circumstances if your very wealthy dont bother otherwise its essential. Its a question can I get hold of ?5000 instantly without really missing it if yes then dont bother if not get insurance.

I use Petplan over here who have been absolutley brilliant I would really recomend them. I had a cheque off them within a week for Cai's OCD operation.

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How much does this insurance usually run? Is it breed specific? I have heard that some pet insurances won't cover health issuses specific to a certain breed ie: hip displasia in GSD's.
But it certainly is something worth considering, since Vet cost are totally out of control these days. I just spent $225 on a little bunny that only weighs 2.51 lbs., just to have some blood drawn and a potential diagnosis!(that's ~ $100 per lb...hahahahaha!)

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There are many levels of coverage. I have VPI's basic coverage. My premiums are $125 a year for a 3 year-old, spayed ACD cross. (You pay less for each additional animal.) This covers about half of all non-basic care.

You can pay twice the premium and get twice the coverage for their premium coverage. You can pay an additional fee to have basic care (vaccs, flea treatment, etc) covered or partially so. You can also pay for additional cancer coverage.

Pre-existing conditions and some breed-related conditions are not covered but you can find all of that information on their website. Google Veterinary Pet Insurance and you can get all of the details and a premium quote.

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It isn't too expensive - especially if you only have one pet. I pay ~$35/month for Dublin with their 'top' plan. It covers emergency stuff, but it also covers routine check-ups, shots, microchipping, heartworm/frontline, etc. It also has the 'double' cancer covereage - god forbid he gets cancer, I never want to be in a position of not being able to afford his care...

I end up paying about $120/month because I have 3 cats I have it on as well...so for multiple pets it can get pricey. But it is worth it for your piece of mind; at least I think so.

They didn't exclude anything on his coverage, but they will for some well-known breed disorders.

Kitch

edit to add: Irayburn - I guess we posted at the same time!

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If you have a PetSmart near you, they have a program for puppies that is great! We had it the first year we had Latte' it covered spay, all 1st year shots, and any office visit. The only thing we had to buy was any medication she needed. I can't remember the exact amount, but it saved enough money to justify it for us.
Nik, what part of Mississippi are you in? jackson here

ms3t97

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The last time I figured this out, you'd be better off to put the monthly premium into a passbook savings account earmarked for veterinary expenses than to send it to the pet insurance company. But then I don't go to vets that would charge me $225 for a blood draw on a bunny.

If Kitch put $120 away every month, at the end of the year that would add up to $1440, plus some interest. Call it $1450. That would have covered me for all but two of my very worst years, paying for between two and six dogs and one or two cats -- not just one dog and three cats.

In a typical year, for one dog and three cats, I would probably spend between $300 and $500 on veterinary care. So if nothing out of the ordinary happened that year, I would go forward into the second year with at least $950 in the account, drawing interest, and having $120 added to it every month.

Of course, there might be situations where your luck goes bad and the savings account won't cover everything. That's how insurance companies work --they spread that risk over thousands or millions of insureds, and invest the premiums to make their profits. You have to be willing and able to stomach the risk to adopt my system. However, the risk isn't all that great with pets. The most expensive procedures are not likely to cost more than a few thousand dollars, and chances are that they won't come until you've been socking money away for a few years.

I had one dog who needed both ACLs done in her lifetime, which spanned 14 years. If I had been putting $35 per month away for her veterinary care all 14 of those years, I would have had $5880, plus interest, so call it $6,000, which would have more than covered all her veterinary care for her entire life, inlcuding the ACLs.

I've had one dog get a stick lodged in her side while gathering sheep out of a brushy area. The surgery and follow-up care cost nearly $2,000. She was five at the time.

I suppose it's a matter of preference, but I would just as soon keep insurance companies out of the veterinary business. They've done nothing but spin human medical costs out of control -- every GP needs 1.5 staff people just to handle insurance paperwork. And then there's the cost of overhead for the insurance companies themselves, which is huge.

Perhaps the most important thing is that because so many people are covered by health insurance, there's no market pressure on the fees for human health services. Of course, it comes out in health insurance rates, but for most people that's something the employer pays, so they don't really consider it.

I'd hate to lose market pressure on veterinary fees because people are out of touch with what things cost. It's important to keep a little perspective on what we pay for veterianry care for animals.

I get a lot more peace of mind having money in the bank than I do from an insurance policy.

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Is that what insurance costs in the states ? I only pay ?11 a month Ok I have to pay the first ?55 and 25% of the costs but it still seems reasonable to me. I think at $120 a month id definatley take Bills advice

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I am with Bill on this one. It adds a third party to the mix, more paperwork,and higher cost. At first you will get discounts for paying cash, but that too will change. It did in human medical scenerio.

Toni

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I also agree with Bill. And with 7 dogs, 6 cats, sheep, chickens, and a lovebird, I can run up some vet bills! If I have a catastrophe, I do have credit cards that can cover really big bills or emergency vet fees....

J.

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It is a personal preference. After close to a $2000 vet bill for one cat it was worth it for me. So far I have come out ahead. I have paid approximately $1450 in premiums, but I have had had $2,517.38 worth of vet visits this year, between Dublin and my cats. So I feel it is worth it.

In the long run, you will always end up paying the insurance company more money (that is why they are in business, after all) but insurance is more for piece of mind, than anything else.

Kitch

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Thanks to all for your input. Still debating on whether it would be worth it or not...still leaning toward not getting it for just the sake of peace of mind.

To Bill: Thank you for that breakdown. It helped me understand my options a bit more. I'm probably one of the dumbest people on earth when it comes to understanding insurance mumbo jumbo.

ms3t97: I'm in a little town called Picayune. It's about 45 min. NW of Gulfport about 5 min. from MS/LA border. Nice to meet a fellow Mississipian here!!

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Here's another interesting thing. I decided to see just what would have been covered in Bess's case. She's the one who got the stick in her side that cost me $2,000.

From the VPI standard benefits page, I would have been allowed $141 for the treatment, $131 for testing, and $99 for anesthesia. That adds up to $371. The additional $1621 would still have come out of my pocket, unless I'm reading something wrong.

I was also looking at the fee schedule for the routine stuff, and it allows $15 for prescription heartworm medication. Per year. That's something that costs about $5 per month for most dogs, and most vets recommend dogs being on it 6 to 12 months a year.

Comprehensive physical exam. $10. You'll probably have to shell out $40 to $70 on top of that benefit.

I don't know, but this VPI plan sure sounds like a bad deal, and I think it may be giving some folks a false sense of security.

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On further review, it looks like they pay 90 percent of the stated benefit after your deductible is satisfied. If we assume that I would have already satisfied my deductible by the time Bess's injury happened in early December, they would have paid $333.90, not $371, leaving me with $1666.10 to pay out of pocket.

During that premium payment year, I would have paid $330 on Bess, so the insurance would have saved me less than $4 on the most expensive procedure that I have ever had done in 15 years of owning up to ten dogs.

Kitch, did they actually pay most or all of what you submitted? If so, I must be misunderstanding something on their website.

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Hi Bill ? I wasn?t ignoring your question, I just didn?t have the figures handy. Here goes:

This year I have spent $2605.02 on vet bills for Dublin and my 3 cats. $991 of that was for Dublin, the rest for the cats. The cats? portion of the expenses were high because 2 had to have teeth pulled and the third had to have a tumor removed. I expect my future vet expenses to go down, because I found a *much* more reasonably priced vet that still provides a high level of care. This doesn?t include heartworm and flea preventative ? I haven?t bothered to track those.

As of right now, I have spent $960 on pet insurance. I have been reimbursed for $762 so far, but I still have $1100 that I just sent in so I am still waiting for those checks. As long as I am reimbursed $200 out of that set of bills I have broken even.

If you look at the expenses on a yearly basis, then I would have spent $1440 on pet insurance. In that case I would need to be reimbursed at least $678 to break even, which is still only 62% of the costs I sent in. As VPI reimburses 90% of cost, I should definitely break even, and will most likely come out ahead this year, based on my calculations and their reimbursement schedule.

If I only look at Dublin?s cost vs. insurance, I am already ahead.

Will this be the case every year? No, or the insurance company wouldn?t make any money. I may cut back on the coverage or drop it completely now that the major ?one-time? items have been taken care of (like neutering, microchipping, etc) and start a vet savings account. I am still undecided on that one, but so far I have had no problems with the company.

I originally looked into insurance because my old vet was so pricey and I wanted some help defraying the costs (he wanted $550 to neuter Dublin, $700 if I wanted laser surgery!!!!) My new vet only charged me $220, including the microchip.

Most of the portions that weren't reimbursed were for procedures that my old vet charged way more than the reimbursement amount listed. As my new vet has much more reasonable pricing (I checked his fee schedule against the insurance schedule - I think he believes I am nuts, but oh well) this shouldn't be a problem in the future. The only other things they didn't reimburse for were the $4 'waste' fees my old vet charged every time he gave a shot.

I hope this helps!

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