In the last post we looked at several of the reasons that the price of high quality veterinary care has increased so dramatically over the past few years. As doctors who witness the importance of dogs, cats and other pets in the lives of humans, this escalating cost is of grave concern. There is nothing more upsetting than seeing a pet owner have to give up their pet or, even worse, euthanize their companion because the price of the cure is more than they can afford. Unfortunately, this seems to happen all too often. So what can you, as a pet owner, do to avoid having to make a decision that is so heart wrenching?
First, pet health insurance has become more available than ever and, even though cost can be substantial, it ensures that regardless of the medical condition, your pet will receive care. When purchasing pet health insurance, be sure to look at several different plans as well as different companies in order to find the plan that best suits your needs and philosphy. Are you looking for Wellness Care (annual physical and immunizations) as well as Major Medical? What type of Dental Coverage does the plan offer? How large of a deductible are you willing to accept? Is there anything restricting pre existing conditions? What does the plan cover in the way of Cancer Care? These are all important considerations as the services you choose will all have an influence on the price the policy. After you have found a plan that best suits your needs, check out the company. There are plenty of online reviews for most of the major players in the industry. If you have any questions, please feel free to call. Whether or not you are a client, our goal is to serve our patients and their human companions. We never refuse a call because you “are not a current client”. After all how does one become a “current client” if the practice never reaches out?
Beyond Pet Health Insurance, what else can a pet owner do? Although online searches are a valuable resource when looking for a veterinary practice, word of mouth recommendations are invaluable. If you belong to a social network community, book club, a gym or even a softball team, ask other pet owners about their experience. Price should not be the only consideration but it should certainly be one of your concerns. Good quality animal health care is never inexpensive but there are clearly significant variations from practice to practice. Although veterinarians have long been a highly trusted and dedicated professional, remember that a veterinary hospital is a business and many veterinarians are paid based in part, on production or commission. This seemingly “conflict of interest” is common in many privately owned hospitals as well as corporate entities. We would all like to think that veterinary medicine is held to a standard where income does not influence decisions. Unfortunately human nature may intervene.
In Part 3 and the final discussion, we will examine what you, as the pet owner, can do in a specific situation where your pet has been hospitalized. Decisions regarding what procedures to OK and which to delay, can often be an easier and more logical choice than you think.