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Thread: Pet Health Insurance

  1. #1
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    Default Pet Health Insurance

    I completed Guinness' AKC registration last night, and now they are advertising their health insurance. It costs ~$500/yr to insure, with a cap of $3000/problem. I'm not happy with this plan so I've shopped around a little. Purina offers a plan for about the same amount that has a $20,000/yr policy cap, and covers genetic and chronic conditions.

    I'm wondering if these seem like a good idea, it seems like if I put $500/yr into a savings account I would end up with a decent amount for paying health costs. I can get an MRI done for $600 at Alabama's vet school, which isn't too far away. The only huge expense I can see (and hopefully will never need) would be if Guinness required surgery for SM. MVD is typically managed with medication.

    Could you guys estimate what your dogs health bills are annually? I'd be especially interested in prices for people living in the US.

    And if I could get estimates on what SM, and MVD meds are costing on a per month basis.

    Guinness appears to be in great health and has several dogs in his pedigree who have been heart clear at 6-8 years. But I want to make sure I'm prepared just in case.

  2. #2
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    My bills are not awful and I've never really had enough to file a claim, but I have insurance in case one of mine had SM or needed Patella Surgery. It's really just for peace of mind.

    Other plans for you to look at in the US are Pet Plan and Pet Care. Pet Care has a per condition cap as well, but the general consensus seems to be that these are the best companies for covering Cavalier's genetic conditions. I pay a lot less with PetPlan than the $500 you are looking at. I know there is also another company that has a good reputation, but I think there is an age cut off for them, so I am staying with Pet Plan.
    Last edited by Lani; 22nd November 2009 at 08:58 PM.
    Lani
    (a.k.a. Lucky's & Sparky's mom!)

  3. #3
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    I've had both petcare and petplan and my opinion is that petplan is by far a better company in every way even though they both cover hereditary diseases. I started with petcare with Molly and had to fight tooth and nail to get them to pay when she was diagnosed with SM, plus she was capped for life for the illness. I switched her over to petplan as soon as they were available in our area. We've had Cooper on petplan since we got him (April) and have had 2 claims already which they paid promptly and without question. What they have paid out in claims have covered his premium for the year. I wouldn't consider owning a dog without having insurance, as a small infection can lead to a $500 vet bill easy.

    That all being said, if you do get insurance get it asap. The insurance companies will look for anything that can point to a pre existing condition.
    Molly and Cooper's mom, Bev

  4. #4
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    I did a ridiculous amount of research and comparison shopping, and I just signed Tucker up for PetPlan. I think it is far better than PetCare and most other plans. Embrace is another good plan, but Tucker is 7 years old and the cutoff for new enrollment with Embrace is 6 years old.

    The companies that have a lifetime cap of $3,000 per illness are no good - you want a plan that has a renewable yearly payout cap. The other "gotchas" to watch for are that most companies (including PetPlan but that seems to be changing) have a higher co-pay for specialists and hospitals than for GP vets, and anything expensive that you'd have done would be with a specialist, so don't waste your premium dollars paying for a low co-pay of 90%. Also, most won't pay for drugs that are not FDA approved for canines, so this would eliminate, for example, sildenafil (viagra) for pulmonary hypertension (MVD complication) since this is "off label" use. It's true that MVD treatment is managed by medication, but the diagnostics and cardiologist consultations are pricey, and then you must do chest x-rays every few months and full bloodwork every few months so it all adds up. You could also very well have an ER visit or short hospitalization in the case of an acute CHF episode. I've definitely spent several thousand annually for MVD per dog if you include meds, cardio visits, bloodwork and x-rays at GP vet, etc. The most I've ever spent per year, though, was for glaucoma - horribly expensive for ophthalmologist visits and very expensive eye drops.

    Tucker is a very healthy Cavalier and has never had a major (or minor for that matter) problem. He is heart clear and symptomless for SM. His premium is $344 per year - quite reasonable for a SEVEN year old Cavalier, but I took the lesser plan ($8,000 annual payout) with a higher ($200) deductible and 20% co-pay as I'm not looking for something to reimburse for minor issues. The good thing with PetPlan is that I can decide (once a year) to go to a higher payout plan and simply just pay the additional premium, and that can be done even if a serious problem is diagnosed with no questions asked.

    Important to remember - an $8,000 annual payout cap doesn't mean $8,000 worth of vet bills but means an $8,000 actual payout - so you have to calculate deductibles and co-pays. To receive an annual payout of $8,000, your actual vet bills would be more like $10,000 or more. In 20 plus years of owning Cavaliers, I've never incurred anywhere near $10,000 in annual vet bills per dog even with very serious illnesses like cancer and kidney failure along with MVD in teenaged dogs. Example - you have a $2,000 bill for a hospitalization to stabilize an acute episode of CHF - after deductible and co-pay - your payment from ins. is $1,440, which is what goes toward your $8,000 max rather than the $2,000 going toward your annual maximum. Make sense? So don't think of the annual cap as the annual total of vet bills. Esp. for us in the Southeastern US (versus CA), it's just inconceivable to incur $20,000 annual vet bills for one dog even for a dog with SM AND MVD AND cancer.

    BTW, the $600 MRIs at Auburn are a thing of the past - that was when Dr. Axlund was there doing a study and he is gone (now in Ohio). Dr. Shores is the neurologist there - one of our members here had SM surgery done for her girl and the MRI was much higher - can't remember but more like double or triple.

    Pat
    Pat B
    Atlanta, GA

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    I pay about $45/month for Riley's SM meds - prednisone and Denamarin (a liver supplement). I just got 105 capsules of 100 mg Gabapentin for me at a cost of $50 (but since it was for me, it only cost me $10 with my insurance). So for a dog on 100mg/three times a day, that would probably cost soemwhere in the $40's/month. Oz has a grade 1 murmur but is not on any medication so far - just Omega 3 and CoQ 10. My other two dogs are not on any meds - just annual vet visits and occasional visits for anal expression.
    Bev
    Oliver (blenheim, born 3/2001), Riley (black & tan, born 8/2002,), Madison (ruby, born 9/2003), and Oz (tri-color, born 7/2007)

  6. #6
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    I've looked into PetPlan, it is significantly cheaper than the plans I had found. My big issue with it is that all of their plans benefit the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

    For those unaware HSUS is a for-profit organization with over $100 million in assets, they are not affiliated with the ASPCA in anyway, and are not involved in providing shelters or rehoming stray animals. Their agenda focuses on stopping the use of animals for biomedical research, bringing an end to hunting, and convincing the entire world to stop eating meat. They do have some issues I agree with; dog fighting, animal abuse, and puppy mills.

    I can't in good conscience give money to this organization. So I'm back to square one. I may just start a savings account for health expenses and hope for the best.

  7. #7
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    So far this yr I have paid out around 4000 in vets fees and that is just for Ruby- its actually really scary its that much. And Ive claimed for all of it through PetPlan.
    Rubys SM meds are 160 every 6 weeks.

    Charlie is different Ive only had him 3 months and so far he is up to 350 in vet fees for all the heart tests etc as he has MVD. He isnt insured for any heart problems as it is a pre exsisting condition and ive started a savings account for him. He is still insured through Pet plan.
    I pay in 50 a month and also whenever I get a cheque back from a claim I pay that in to the savings aswell.
    The savings account comes in very handy for both dogs as you have to have money up front to pay for treatment anyway.
    Their joint policy is 73 per month.
    I can safely say ive claimed back far more than ive paid so far.
    They are both on a life time policy with a limit of 7500 for vets fees/yr and 1000 complimentry treatments (which covers Rubys hydrotherepy sessions) and there is other stuff included also. (3rd party, boarding fees, theft and loss, etc etc

    Karen

    Ruby - my stunning soul mate who defies the odds every day
    Charlie- my angel at heart and devil at play


  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soushiruiuma View Post
    I've looked into PetPlan, it is significantly cheaper than the plans I had found. My big issue with it is that all of their plans benefit the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
    I understand this is a barrier for a lot of people. That said, I've heard both sides of that debate and to get the best possible insurance for my dogs I can easily overlook the arguments against HSUS.

    That said, you need to do what's comfortable for you, but I really do think Pet Plan has the best policies for Cavaliers in the US. Good luck in whatever you decide!
    Lani
    (a.k.a. Lucky's & Sparky's mom!)

  9. #9
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    Originally Posted by Soushiruiuma
    I've looked into PetPlan, it is significantly cheaper than the plans I had found. My big issue with it is that all of their plans benefit the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
    I understand this is a barrier for a lot of people. That said, I've heard both sides of that debate and to get the best possible insurance for my dogs I can easily overlook the arguments against HSUS.
    I'm considering getting the policy anyway, the other company recommended (embrace) doesn't cover MVD in cavaliers, so that's pretty useless.

    I work in biomedical research, and our facility has been targeted by animal rights groups at times, so it's very difficult to justify funding an organization that advocates destroying my job.

  10. #10
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    I've looked into PetPlan, it is significantly cheaper than the plans I had found. My big issue with it is that all of their plans benefit the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
    I have PetPlan for both of mine. I figure as much as they've had to pay me out this year there wasn't anything left for them to give HSUS
    Cathy
    Loving mom to Jake, Shelby and Micah

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