As the nation debates changes to our health insurance system, another insurance debate is taking place with pet owners. Is it worth while to purchase a policy for your pet?
This little terrier mix has made a number of visits to the vet recently due to an auto immune defect, and his owner says getting pet health insurance probably would have been a good idea.
"We have quite a number that have pet insurance I think those that have it, like it," said Liz Alton with the Green Mountain Animal Clinic
But pet health insurance is a relatively new idea in Vermont. In other areas of the county, like California, it is unusual not to have that insurance for your furry friend. Regular vet bills for a healthy dog for routine shots and care costs about $500 a year, but an accident or injury could easily boost that cost to thousands of dollars.
"The thing with veterinary medicine -- the technology and the medical expertise and the ability to do things to really help pets has exploded, just like in human medicine, so almost anything you can do in human medicine you can do in veterinary medicine," Alton said. "But we don't always have the funds to do it for our pets."
Which makes for some very difficult decisions. But if you are considering insurance for your pet, beware, not all policies are alike and make sure you read the fine print. Most policies do not include pre-existing conditions. Some call for waiting periods before the insurance kicks in.
Alton says another idea is to put money aside each month in a special savings account and earmark that money for your pet's health. "You definitely want to take care of your loved pet and yet where is that several thousand dollars going to come from -- and that is where the major medical insurance would kick in and help you out," she said.
Policies can cost anywhere from about $30 a month and up, depending on the coverage you choose.
The best thing to do, according to Dr Alton, is to call the pet Insurance companies you are considering and ask a lot of questions before signing up for a policy.