Pet Awareness - October

October Is Pet Health Insurance Awareness Month

With all the debate and commotion about health reform, let’s take a moment to remember the well-being of our animal companions.

Pet Health Insurance Month was started four years ago by Petsecure, a Canadian-based pet health insurance company to raise awareness of the importance of securing health insurance as a part of responsible pet ownership. To further that effort, the North American Pet Health Insurance Association was formed in 2007. It members, according to its website, are “committed to educating and promoting to North American pet owners, the general public, and the veterinary industry, the values and benefits of pet health insurance.”

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, about 60 percent of households in the United States have at least one dog, cat, bird, or other companion animal. Cats outnumbered dogs by about 10 million: there are more than 72 million pet dogs and nearly 82 million pet cats. People spend a lot on their pets, with projected 2009 expenditures for North America at more than $45 billion, with $25 billion going to veterinary care.

A pet health insurance policy has most of the same features of a human policy: annual premiums, deductibles, and a variety of coverage options. Pet plans are based on age, species, and pre-existing conditions (the animals cannot get away from it either). As in humans, some pet health insurance companies will refuse coverage to animals that have current medical conditions or a terminal illness. Some plans will not cover breeds that are prone to develops specific diseases common to the breed.

Pet health insurance policy costs vary, depending on the extent of the package. Pet owners can get plans that cover annual checkups and vaccinations, routine care, spay/neuter surgeries, and preventive drugs, while other plans cover only illness and accidents. “Family plans” are also available, where additional pets are covered at a reduced rate. Annual deductibles are typically around one hundred dollars.

For some pet owners, pet health insurance may be something they want but cannot afford; for others, it’s peace of mind they cannot be without. Given that many people consider their pets to be members of the family, providing health insurance for them can become as important as having their own, a concept nonpet owners may find difficult to understand.

Source: American Veterinary Medical Association