In a down economy, where so many people are unemployed and uninsured, this may seem like an unrealistic topic to cover. That being said, even in down times, people still have pets and still spend lots of money on them, even when the (the pet owners) don’t have it.
Essentially pet insurance works in roughly the same manor as many regular health insurance plans in the sense that you have a deductible, co-pay and an exhaustive list regarding what procedures the pet insurance will or will not cover. The procedures covered by pet insurance range from routine vet visits to kidney transplants.
In 2009 Americans spent over $400 million on pet insurance, meanwhile, according to the United States Census Bureau, there are over 50 million Americans that currently do not have any health insurance. That’s 16% of the population! (I know that the last two sentences don’t REALLY go along with the pet insurance theme of this post, but I felt the need to interject. I apologize.)
Anyway, according to research I’ve done online (yes, I know you can’t believe everything you read on the internet) the average person can expect to spend between $2,000 and $7,000 on pet insurance over the life of their furry friend, which is probably well over the cost you will probably shell out for any type of veterinary procedures for your pet. Seems like this should be enough to make you wonder about whether or not pet insurance is worth it.
Now before you label me as a heartless animal hater, I would like to point out that I do have a cat and a dog and would be willing to spend large sums of money in order to take care of them. However, I figure financially it is probably better to cross that bridge if I ever come to it and not act preemptively by purchasing pet insurance. Plus, I can avoid the scenario below, which is detailed in an article on WiseBread, written by Paul Michael, entitled, “Is Pet Health Insurance Worth It?“:
So, armed with all of that knowledge, I figured we’d probably get at least 50 percent refunded to us. And $272 or less for treatment made the insurance worth it, even though we’d paid out more than that in monthly premiums.
I submitted the bill with the claim form and waited. I recently found out that we are receiving $135 of that $545.43.
That’s less than 25 percent! Far, far less than the examples shown on the website. As you can see, the main injury (the bite wound) was covered for just over 10 percent. Wow.
I downloaded the complex bill reimbursement forms (PDF) and they read like quantum physics. There are several categories of reimbursement for each line item, and even then you only get a percentage of what they say you’re covered for. Wait, what? So, if you’re covered for $100, you get $90. Well why not just cover you for $90? Seems odd.
As I tried to make any kind of sense of this, I realized something: I wasn’t supposed to make sense of it. This is made as complex as possible so average Joe’s like you and I don’t know what we’re expected to receive or how to fight it.
In this case we were lucky. 76 percent of $545 is something we can afford right now. But what if it was 76 percent of $7000? That would have been a lot more difficult to come up with. And the very reason we got pet health insurance in the first place was to avoid that dilemma.
To get more of the backstory, I suggest reading the entire article. It’s worth your time, especially if you are seriously considering purchasing pet health insurance.
It seems to me that you’re probably better served trying to give your pet a happy and healthy life on your own without the aid of pet insurance which you may or may not ever need. And, thankfully, you can do just that on the cheap.
Here are several inexpensive ways to make sure you’ll never need pet insurance and/or expensive veterinary procedures:
- Don’t buy cheap food. Get the better quality, healthier food which will pay off with better health.
- Keep your animals indoors, in a fenced in backyard or on a leash. This will drastically reduce the risk for injury.
- Don’t let your pets get fat. While there’s more to love, you’ll probably have less time to do it and encounter more health problems along the way.
- Don’t feel compelled to get your pet’s medication from your vet. Feel free to check around with other vets or pet medication websites to try and find better deals.
Look, I understand that in the long run, you’re probably going to spend thousands of dollars on your pets during their lifetimes. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing at all, especially considering what they give back is relatively priceless (awwww). At the same time, I think things like pet insurance are a frivolous waste of money.