Pet Health Insurance and Financial Assistance

Jan 3, 2019   Tracey Aston   Health & Wellness

Few things are as anxiety inducing to pet parents as finding out a beloved pet has an illness or injury. In addition to the possibility of learning new diets, medication routines and modified mobility techniques, the rising costs of pet healthcare can also weigh heavily on the family.

The national average cost for a non-emergency veterinary visit is $50, with specialist care easily reaching $250 a visit.  Emergency care for pets can range from $300 a visit to a staggering $1,000 or more depending on the reason for the visit. Adding in the additional costs of medications, x-rays, bloodwork and MRIs, it's easy to see how even a prepared pet parent's emergency fund can quickly be whittled away.

As the saying goes, the best time to prepare for an emergency is before it happens and many pet parents have taken to getting pet insurance for their pets in the event of the unexpected. Like health insurance for us, a monthly payment is paid based on the policy and needs of the pet, and a deductible is chosen. The type of insurance and coverage can vary wildly from company to company and it's imperative to research and review what type of policy will be best for you and your pet. When researching pet insurance, review things like coverage, deductibles, reimbursement methods and caps on payouts. Even with the highest premium, most insurance won't cover congenital, hereditary, rare or pre-existing conditions. Pay close attention to the reimbursement method, as not all companies will pay the actual veterinary bill but instead reimbursement the pet parent for the amount covered. This means, the bill will need to be paid out of pocket beforehand. Another section of fine print to pay close attention to is the caps of payments. Some insurance will cap out at a certain amount, while others will have no caps on accidents, or an annual or lifetime cap. Some policies will only cover certain things, such as accident coverage, illness coverage and wellness coverage. Below is a comparison table for the 10 most popular pet insurances.

Company

24 Pet Watch

American Kennel Club

ASPCA

Embrace

Healthy Paws

Nationwide

Pet First

Pet Plan

Deductible

$250

$250

$250

$300

$250

$250

$250/incident

$250

Reimbursement

80%

80%

80%

80%

80%

Benefit Schedule

80%

80%

Limit Amount

$20,000

$8,000/incident - $16,000 annual

Unlimited

$15,000

Unlimited

Unlimited

$10,000

Unlimited

Limit Term

Annual

Annual

Annual

Annual

Lifetime

Annual

Annual

Annual

Monthly Price

$41.57

$42.30

$67.95

$56.87

$41.57

$42.30

$67.95

$56.87

 

The downfall of all pet insurance is that it can take up to 12 months from date of purchase until full or partial policy coverage.  What's a loving pet parent to do if they didn't have pet insurance beforehand, and now find themselves in the position of needing financial assistance for their pet's health care? Thankfully, there are many other options available to pet parents running low, or out, of funds for their pet's health care.

Some animal hospitals and veterinarians will offer payment plans, but that's become more and more of a rarity. Speak with your veterinarian to see if they offer any kind of payment plans or financial assistance.

For those clinics and hospitals that don't offer financial assist, there is Care Credit. Care Credit is a pet healthcare credit card. If your credit score won't allow a normal credit card, you most likely won't be eligible for this type of credit card either.  It's a way to pay for the costs of many treatments and procedures and allows for convenient monthly payments.   Care Credit offers deferred interest payments over 6, 12, 18, and 24 months, meaning if the balance is paid in full, no interest will be charged. Credit Care is subject to credit approval, and terms, interest rates and payment amounts will varying based on your score.

Even if you pet doesn't have insurance coverage, or the deductible hasn't been reached, and your credit score doesn't allow for a Care Credit, there are still options to get your pet back to wellness. Many non-profits offer veterinary bill assistance programs.

Some organization that offer help with veterinary bills are:

Paws 4 A Cure

The Big Hearts Fund

Cats in Crisis

The Pet Fund

Brown Dog Foundation

God's Creatures Ministry

Joshua Louis Animal Cancer Foundation

Diabetic Cats in Need

Magic Bullet Fund

The Mosby Foundation

Handicapped Pets Foundation

The Onyx & Breezy Foundation

RedRover Relief Grants

The Dog and Cat Cancer Fund

Frankie's Friends

IMOM (In Memory of Magic)

Labrador Lifeline

 

Our local area in Pennsylvania also has specific assistance programs such as,

Action for Animals Humane Society: Latrobe (spay/neuter assistance)

Animal Care & Assistance Fund (veterinary care assistance)

Animal Friends: Pittsburgh (pet food, spay/neuter assistance)

The Animal Rescue of Western Pennsylvania (veterinary care assistance)

Humane Society of Westmoreland County: Greensberg (spay/neuter and vaccination assistance)

Washington Area Humane Society: Eighty Four (spay/neuter and vaccination assistance, assistance for necessary veterinary medical care)

Western Pennsylvania Humane Society: Pittsburgh (spay/neuter assistance, assistance for necessary veterinary medical care

It's always best to expect the unexpected but life doesn't always play fair. We all love our pets, and a sudden job loss or financial instability doesn't have to cost the life of our beloved fur babies. Fortunately, between pet insurance, care credit and many non-profits and animal organizations, our pets can remain well even in tight financial circumstances. A healthy pet is a loved pet.

 

 
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