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Welcome To Dr. Pinney's Pet Blog

Dr. Pinney's Pet Blog offers a glimpse into the dynamic and ever-changing world of veterinary medicine and pet health care.

In addition, our pet blog offers money saving advice and tips for the frugal pet owner in all of us!

Monday, Oct 10, 2011
Pet Health Insurance: Friend or Foe?
By Dr. Chris Pinney
Monday, Oct 10, 2011 01:02
In a recent article by MSN News, the consumer group Choice stated that taking out pet insurance could be a viable option for concerned owners in view of the soaring veterinary costs. The reason: Increased treatment options and technological advances have led to a steep rise in some veterinary costs. They came to this conclusion after reviewing pet insurance claims. And get this. The highest recorded claims they found were for an ear infection costing $8,780 and a snakebite costing $11,035!

There are three problems with this.

First, those fees are nothing short of OUTRAGEOUS for the medical conditions addressed. In other words, the veterinarians involved should be reprimanded by their respective State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners for overcharging and padding the bill. If it took that much effort on their part to diagnose and properly treat those conditions, they need to be sent back to school to hone their diagnostic and treatment skills.

Secondly, I doubt very seriously if the insurance company allowed these claims. If they did, they're not very smart at what they do. If they didn't, then the owners of these pets were left holding wallet-crunching bills.

Thirdly, contrary to what Choices recommends, this example illustrates the reasons why insurance is not the answer to the rising cost of pet health care. With third party payment, its just too tempting for veterinary health care providers to raise fees under the false assumption that pet owners won't be affected because of the insurance.

However, pet owners will be affected, simply because the insurance companies have to make money. Considering that the majority of pet owners have not purchased insurance (nor plan to do so) and that dogs and cats have short life spans, these companies are going to have a rough time making up the money they payout in claims. The result: High deductibles and lots of exclusions for preexisting conditions. Either way, the end result for pet insurance is the same - The owner ultimately pays.