The family dog or cat in today’s world has many more opportunities to live a better life and take advantage of health care options that were previously unavailable or, in many cases, considered unimaginable for them. The human-animal bond has driven advances in medical research, specialized care, and innovation that have allowed pets to live longer, healthier, and pain-free lifestyles.
Our goal as an animal hospital accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association is to provide the best veterinary care possible for every animal that we have the privilege of serving. We also strive to give pets and pet parents the best experience possible by practicing fear-free methods that consider both the emotional and medical well-being of each pet. These are some of the reasons that clients with pet insurance are attracted to our animal hospital. When an insured pet comes in for a sick visit, the conversation changes from “How much will it cost?” to “How quickly can you figure out what is going on?”
During this day and age, pet parents have become used to “Amazon speed” instant gratification and immediate test results for their pets. One example of how technology has changed in our practice is with digital cytology. If you had asked me years ago if a lump or bump could be evaluated by a pathologist within minutes and then be removed by a surgeon at my practice the same day, I would have called you crazy.
Clients with pet insurance appreciate that we are getting them the most information in the shortest amount of time. They have developed a bond with their pet that overrides any potential issue with the cost of caring for their pet. They know that when they come to our practice and we take x-rays, they will have a radiology report within minutes so we can discuss the findings and best treatment options. These pet parents not only want but demand “concierge veterinary care.” They want to know immediately that their pet’s vital organs are working as they should. They are prepared for the costs because they see the value behind the information they receive and the beneficial outcome for their fur baby.
Another critically important aspect of having pet insurance is that it helps to ensure that no time is wasted during sick visits. Health insurance companies have made improvements to a preapproval process for sick visits to help expedite care for pets. Being able to preapprove a condition for insurance coverage results in a more efficient workflow and time saved, allowing the hospital team to manage cases more smoothly. When insured pet parents come in to our practice, we save the time that is usually dedicated to going over treatment plans as parents give us a green light to do whatever is necessary for their beloved pet.
In our profession we hear people say that their pet’s medical bills are as much or even higher than the cost of their own medical bills. People believe this is because they usually have their medical care bills paid through their health insurance. Imagine that you decided that if your children or family members ever suffered an injury, illness, or accident you would just pay out of pocket for their medical care. Some people might think you were unreasonable or irresponsible, unless you had a large amount of disposable income.
Most pet parents pay out of pocket for their pets’ medical expenses. This is easier to do if you bring in enough income to put money aside for your pets’ health care, but most Americans struggle to save money at all. More importantly, there is no way to anticipate what will happen in the future, so you cannot predict when or how your pets will get sick or how much it will cost.
Our pets’ lives come with uncertainties. No matter how careful or responsible we are, our puppies find and devour socks, our kittens climb and stumble off shelves, and we have a responsibility to provide them with the best treatment available. We love our pets, and pet insurance has become a necessary tool that enables us to care for them without excessive financial burden and added stress for pet parents.
At the very least, the average cost for an unexpected veterinary visit can range anywhere from $800 to $1500 or more. In many cases, a pet emergency visit leads to long-term care changes. When this happens, not only do you need to cover the cost of your emergency vet visit, you also have to factor in long-term costs to your budget. When a pet is seriously injured or develops a chronic illness, they will need regular treatment and medications to maintain their quality of life.
Considering that most Americans don’t have $1000 to spend in an emergency, it is troubling to think what could happen to a family if they were suddenly overwhelmed with expenses.
So the question you need to ask your clients is “Can you afford to have a pet without insurance?” If you are providing those clients with the excellent care that all pets deserve, the answer should be a resounding—no.
Boaz Man, DVM, is the owner and medical director of Boca Midtowne Animal Hospital, an American Animal Hospital Association—accredited facility in Boca Raton, Florida, and a Fear Free–certified professional.