Has your furry friend ever required a visit to the vet outside their yearly checkup? I can inform you that paying for veterinary services is not cheap from firsthand experience. We started with scheduling an appointment. The standard checkup fee can range depending on if you see your community vet or a clinic at the pet stores. Because the vet is familiar with Athena, and I love the staff there where she is comfortable, I scheduled her visit through them. The examination fee was about 30$, which is usually waived if they order additional testing and medications. Because Athena did not have pet insurance, each test they requested was an additional cost. After her ultrasound-guided urine sample was obtained, prescriptions provided, and supplementary labs were ordered, her initial visit costs us north of 300$. We had to start her on antibiotics, which didn't sit well with her stomach, and I had to get creative with giving her medications, which meant paying additional money for pill disguising treats.
A couple of weeks went by, and Athena started having symptoms again, so I took her back to the vet. Once again, they waived the fee because they had to obtain a new urine sample to culture. This was her second UTI in one month, and another bill over 200$. Luckily this visit cost us less because there was less blood work that had to be completed. However, medications and procedures for dogs can be pricey due to the lack of insurance for them. It could be that I was naive when first getting Athena, but I also didn't know anyone else that had insurance for their pet. I started thinking, what would I have done if this was something more severe like a bowel obstruction. Or even worse...she accidentally injures herself due to her breed being prone to hip dysplasia?
After her third UTI, I started looking into pet insurance. It, unfortunately, only led to more frustration. Pet insurance is ridiculously designed. If your dog has had any illness, you basically can't be covered. It was tedious, but I researched several companies trying to find reputable insurance and reasonably priced. Here are a couple of things I discovered:
1. No plan/company covers pre-existing conditions defined by an injury, illness, or irregularity noted by the vet
2. Most companies increase the price after the animal ages
3. It can be very limited in what it covers
4. It is pricey. Plans typically range from 30-90$/month
5. There is a variety of programs. The less covered, the cheaper the plan
6. Similar to car insurance and medical insurance, price is dependent on reimbursement amounts yearly, percentage of cost reimbursed and deductibles required to meet prior to reimbursement
After extensive research hours, I was left feeling frustrated that there wasn't a better cost-effective solution for our pets. So what do we do as pet owners? If you don't want pet insurance, this is an option. Some other options include talking to the vet for a payment plan to be set up. Sometimes you can use credit such as care credit. Care credit covers human and animal health services. They often have promotions available for no interest if paid within six months. If credit and payment plans are not an option, you could look into possible financial support charities in your local neighborhood. Some companies offer discounts if you pay for their plan versus covering medical costs such as 25% off the vet bill if accepted by your veterinary clinic. Lastly, you put money aside for food monthly, why not have savings for your dog for emergencies? If you were going to pay 30-50$ for insurance, put that money away. After a year, that is 360$-600$ you saved for your dog if something went wrong.
While it may not cover the more expensive surgeries for our furry friends, having the savings will help with the pesky vet bills for vaccines/visits/common ailments that are easily treatable with the right care and vet diagnosis. You could also do a combo. Ex: 30$ a month with a 20$ insurance plan that reimburses 70%, up to $10,000 a year with a 1,000 deductible. Let's say the surgery is going to cost about 3,300$. Hypothetically, if you have saved for a year when this happens, and you haven't met the deductible, you would pay 20$ for the monthly cost, a 1,000$ deductible, and the remaining balance of 690$ for the surgery. After you apply your balance saved and the monthly fee for services, that is 1,350$ for the surgery out of pocket costs. This is the extreme case scenario that I hope none of you have to experience. However, I hope this information helps you decide on the best way to manage your pet's illness with the least amount of stress.
Thanks fur the read,
The Pawsitive Writer