Young and Minority Leaders

The True Cost of Pet Health Care

Jack L. Stephens Dvm asked:

Like most things these days, the price of pet care is increasing. However, unlike the price of gas, which is set by supply and demand, the cost of caring for your pet is driven by an increasing expectation for the quality of care.

The advancements in high-tech diagnostics now provide for a faster and more accurate diagnosis, which in turn allows your veterinarian to provide the appropriate treatment faster.

Pets are living longer due to improved health care and treatments, just as we are. And, just as with human aging, aging in pets sometimes brings the complications of chronic medical conditions, such as arthritis, kidney and heart failure and, of course, cancer. Cancer is the leading cause of death in pets over six years of age, and – also as with humans – cancer can be successfully treated in most pets.

What pet owners often overlook is the cost involved. While cancer treatments are far less expensive for our pets than they are for us, treating cancer can still be quite costly for most families whose beloved pet needs treatment.

It is not unusual today for cancer treatments for an ill or injured pet to cost into the thousands of dollars. For most people, this cost is a budget buster and creates a dilemma for pet families as they struggle with shuffling the budget to pay for the treatment or facing the emotional trauma of not being able to afford the needed care.

What are pet owners to do?  There are several options, but each has their downside.

Savings – The trouble here is that you won’t have it for another emergency when you need it, or for your retirement. Time is also an issue here as it takes years to have enough put aside if the problem is severe.

Credit Cards – With credit cards, we all know what happens to the interest rate if a payment is late and sometimes even when not. It’s exorbitant.

Disposable Income – If you’re like most, there is very little left after you’ve met your monthly bills for unexpected expenses, especially those that can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Pet Insurance – This is another solution that allows pet owners to budget and always be able to afford most any care that occurs once coverage is secured. Pet health insurance is a good option and an easy way to budget for your pet’s care. Since most plans reimburse you 80% after a low deductible, it gives pet owners peace of mind knowing they can afford care, whether minor or major.

Far too often, we think nothing will happen to our pets. This is wishful thinking because invariably, something will happen. When not prepared, this reality can lead to the hard decision of whether or not to pay for the pet’s treatment.

With pet insurance you pay an affordable monthly premium, and you’re prepared for the treatment of any of the thousands of illness and injuries covered by pet insurance.

Chances are that your pet will be faced with more than one large veterinary bill; having pet insurance means you’re prepared. Just like children, pets can get into plenty of trouble and have many of the same medical conditions as humans. Pets  are also subject to some diseases that do not afflict humans.

One aspect of pet insurance to keep in mind is that pet insurance does not cover medical problems that are already present, whether diagnosed or not. If the condition exists prior to coverage, then it cannot be covered. Because of this, pet owners need to purchase pet insurance when the pet is healthy or before major medical complications develop.  See how pet insurance plans work and visit

When researching pet insurance policies, be sure to check for these things:

The ability to use your own veterinarian

That the policy pays a flat percentage of eligible expenses with no set schedules that may be considerably less than your veterinarian, emergency clinic or specialist might charge.

A reasonable deductible. The higher the deductible the lower the premium usually, since you are taking on more risk.

The company is recommended by your veterinarian. Your vet or their staff knows which companies pay, which ones provide good service, and which don’t.

Pets of any age are insured with no termination of coverage due to age. As pets age their medical conditions increase. When they are young, accidents are more prevalent. But remember, misfortune can attack pets of any age. You want your pet insurance coverage ( to stay in effect to be prepared for those problems.

Fast reimbursement. Most vets require you to pay up front and then seek reimbursement from the pet insurance administrator or company. That means you don’t want to wait long for your money, since the cost may be on your credit card.

Affordable yet provides good value. How do you tell? It is tough. Ask friends who have experience. Ask your vet or shop carefully, as many companies and plans look alike but function very differently. Again, your vet will have recommendations. You can also go to the Pets Best Insurance website ( to check out a leader in the field.

If you want peace of mind knowing you’ll always be able to afford whatever care your pet needs, consider pet health insurance as the best option. It makes sense.

And remember, obtain pet insurance before your pet needs it. This will keep you from having to revert to savings, disposable income, a loan or using a credit card when medical emergencies occur.

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