Thinking About Buying Health Insurance For Your Pet?

By Joan Eve Quinn, Program Director

HEALS urges pet owners to consider purchasing health insurance for their furry family members. Having a pet health insurance policy in place to cover visits to your family veterinarian’s practice—and at advanced 24-hour specialty and emergency hospitals—can help tremendously in times of financial and emotional stress.   

A pet health insurance plan can be especially valuable in multi-pet households. Certain specialized procedures and therapies, such as orthopedic surgeries and chemotherapy treatments to fight cancer, tend to be quite expensive. In many cases, the insurance company reimburses you for a large percentage of the costs as determined by your plan’s coverage allowances. Usually, pet owners pay the veterinary practice fist and subsequently receive reimbursement from the insurance company.     

We recommend buying a policy early in your pet’s life to maximize the benefits you’ll receive. As pets age, benefits often decrease and pre-existing conditions may be excluded. A good approach would be to discuss the topic with your primary care veterinarian during your new pet’s first wellness visit.

HEALS Chief Executive Officer, Bernadette Vinci, MS, LHEP, urges pet owners to buy insurance if they can afford it, but she also offers a less costly alternative. “If you can’t afford the premiums, you can start a pet savings account with automatic deductions from your paycheck if you’re currently employed. But that can be somewhat risky since you never know when a pet will become ill or injured and those veterinary bills can quickly mount up. So insurance gives you better peace of mind,” she added.   

 The marketplace offers a broad array of pet health insurance policies. Quite a few websites allow you to compare coverage and pricing across a wide range of plans. Research and compare carefully; coverage options and out-of-pocket costs, such as deductibles, premiums, and co-pays, vary greatly and exclusions may apply.  

If you need help to pay for dog or cat veterinary services–or for any other type of pet–insurance can make it possible for your animal companion to receive appropriate treatment and supportive care. To help you decide whether pet health insurance is right for you—and for buying advice—here’s an article from trusted, unbiased Consumer Reports: 

HEALS is one of the best animal charities to donate to. Your donation provides financial help for pets in need of life-saving veterinary care–when their owners truly can’t afford it–right here in your own community.

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