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Whether we’re talking about the hit-by-a-car dog or the unexpected cancer diagnosis, the financial doom and gloom that can accompany such emergency events often has a way of overshadowing the actual medical issues.
This is why I love it when I hear that a patient is covered by pet health insurance.
I know what you’re thinking: Of course veterinarians are excited about pet insurance. It means that we get to charge more for our services, right?
But this is just not so! Let me explain . . .
By recent estimates, less than 5 percent of American pet owners have taken out pet health insurance policies — a fact that never ceases to amaze me. With the rising cost of companion animal health care — largely the result of increases in drug and supply costs, as well as the coming of age of specialized veterinary medicine — it seems to me that it is increasingly foolish to live without coverage, since monster bills are altogether too common.
So I recommend that every owner who doesn’t have stellar credit or a big bank account purchase insurance coverage to prevent the nontreatment of sudden injury, illness — or worse. Indeed, I’ve seen more than my share of what I call “death by estimate,” which is when owners can’t or won’t pay for expensive services, especially when specialized care is needed.
And yet it’s a small percentage of owners who actually take me up on my suggestion. What’s up with that?
In any case, I’ll just keep trying to motivate the pet-loving masses. Perhaps these stories may just inspire you to pick out a policy!
Fuzzball is a playful kitty who happens to love gnawing on things. Not destructively or dangerously, mind you. She’s just “perpetually teething” — or so her owner thought until a pair of flip-flops went missing and she found purple bits of rubbery sole behind the sofa.
I remember exactly what I said at the time: “Let’s just wait, and maybe you’ll get lucky. She chewed the thing into teensy-tiny hunks, and all those pieces will eventually pass.”
No such luck!
Vomiting ensued. A barium study, too. Knowing that there were lots of pieces in there meant that Fuzzball would be better off in a specialist’s hands. And because her owner had pet health insurance, she wasn’t forced to choose the general practitioner (me) over the rock star surgeon, who ended up opening the cat's stomach, along with more than one area of the intestines.
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