Editorial September 2017 Issue

Sure to Help

Pet health insurance relieves concerns about extraordinary veterinary costs.

Whole Dog Journal editor Nancy Kerns

I’m giving myself a big pat on the back. Late last year, not only did I decide to enroll both of my dogs in a pet insurance plan, I actually did it. I’m not exactly happy that both of my dogs have needed a lot of veterinary attention lately, but having insurance when they did has helped reduce the financial stress.

I had an epiphany when my adolescent Lab/pit-mix, Woody, swallowed a small tennis ball (after 6 on a Friday night, no less): Such an exuberant, athletic, and spontaneous dog needs insurance. And Otto, my scruffy heart-dog does, too. He’s a big dog and closing in on 10 years old, an age that prompts concerns about things like cancer. I wanted a full-coverage plan for Otto, but I was tempted to buy young, abundantly healthy Woody a “major medical” plan only. However, such an active dog is prone to things like a torn ACL, and only the top-of-the-line plans cover knee surgeries and the like, so I ended up looking for a deluxe plan for him, too.

After a bit of research, I settled on a plan called “Whole Pet with Wellness” offered by Nationwide Pet Insurance (formerly VPI) for both dogs. It seems like it will cover anything that my dogs might need and reimburse me for 90 percent of the cost of vet visits after a $250 (per year) deductible. Woody’s coverage costs $58 per month; Otto’s costs $122 per month. That definitely puts a dent in my monthly budget, but as it turns out, it’s worth it.

Foxtails, the bane of a California dog’s existence, prompted Woody’s first, second, and third trips to the vet this year. His insurance hasn’t quite paid for itself so far, but if he has just one more veterinary visit for an injury or illness this year, it likely will be a draw.

And, darn it, as I write, we’re in the middle of trying to diagnose a concerning issue with Otto. Through July 31, I’ve spent $854 on his insurance and $1,550 on his medical bills for a total of $2,404. But I’ve got $1,170 coming back to me ($1,550 minus the $250 deductible equals $1,300; Nationwide reimburses me for 90 percent of that, which is $1,170), meaning my net cost so far, for insurance plus my share of Otto’s medical bills, is $1,234. Woohoo! I’m ahead so far – which is good, because I may end up spending a good bit more on him before this is through.

Knowing that I need only pay for the monthly insurance plus 10 percent of any more potential vet bills this year eases my mind – at least about the money, anyway. I’ll explain more about what was going on with both dogs in a blog post; see Whole Dog Journal's blog in the upcoming days.

In the meantime, think good thoughts for Otto, would you?

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