Care.com

Christine Koh @ChristineK48

All About Pet Health Insurance: Where to Find it, Why and How

What you need to know about purchasing pet insurance.

Like humans, pets have medical needs, a fact easily demonstrated by the billions of dollars that Americans spend on veterinary care each year. Pet insurance can help safeguard against unexpected and costly out-of-pocket medical expenses. The following tips will help you hone in on the right plan for you and your pet.

  • Where do I start looking? Comparison shopping can help you save money, and there now are websites such as www.petinsurancereview.com that allow you to compare rates from leading pet insurers.
  • When should I consider insurance? Consider obtaining an insurance policy while your pet is young and before they develop conditions that could result in higher premiums.
  • How much coverage? Insurance plans can start as low as $6 or $7 a month and run quite a lot higher, depending on coverage level. Coverage can include options such as accidents, hospitalizations, x-rays, surgery, illnesses, spaying/neutering, vaccinations, annual check ups, flea and heartworm prevention, and dental. Estimate your annual pet expenses and consider what you could afford for out-of-pocket emergency procedures.Compare these numbers to the monthly rates to determine what level you can afford.
  • Which vets? Some insurance providers have a prescribed network of veterinarians, whereas others allow you to choose your own vet. If you are firm on seeing a specific vet -- for example, one highly recommended by a friend -- start by finding out which insurance plans include your vet, then compare those select plans.
  • Discounts. As you compare insurance providers, inquire about multiple pet discounts if you have, or plan on having, an additional pet.
  • Payment. Most vets do not have a co-pay structure. Instead, you pay up front, then submit reimbursement paperwork to the insurance provider. Ask providers about typical reimbursement turnarounds, especially if you are on a tight day-to-day budget.
  • Preventive care. Preventive care is good for humans and pets alike, both for general well being and to keep medical costs down. To strike a balance on a budget, invest in the best basic coverage you can afford while taking preventive measures, such as providing your pet with natural foods and supplements, plenty of exercise, and natural instead of pharmaceutical interventions depending on the situation.

Pets quickly become beloved members of a family. To safeguard against unexpected and costly out-of-pocket medical expenses, consider a small monthly investment in pet insurance.

Christine Koh is a music and brain scientist turned freelance writer, editor, and designer. She is the editor of http://www.bostonmamas.com/BostonMamas.com and the artist behind PoshPeacock.com.