Over the weekend, the LA Times’ LA Unleashed blog had a quick blurb about health insurance for your pets. According to the article, 1% of all pet owners have pet insurance, and the number is expected to increase. In November, the Los Angeles Animal Services Commission recommended that the city partner with pet insurer Pet’s Best to refer
Pet’s Best as an insurance option for individuals who adopt an animal from any of the six Animal Care Centers. In return, the city gets a sponsorship fee for each policy sold. Pet’s Best estimates that between 200 and 250 policies will be issued this year as result of this partnership.
Now, the eternal question for pet owners: at a time when people can barely afford insurance for themselves, is insurance for their pet worth it? I agonized over this to-insure-or-not-insure problem when I bought my dog, and then lived to kind of regret not insuring her when, at the ripe age of 6 months, she vaulted off a sofa and somehow managed to completely break her left foreleg.
The emotional and financial agony after the jump.
A clean break like hers required a steel plate and seven screws (like a war vet). The Animal Surgery and Emergency Center on Sepulveda and Santa Monica gave me a quote of over $4,000 – over $4,000!!! – for the surgery. Flabbergasted, I did what my mom used to do when we didn’t have health insurance and she couldn’t afford to pay the full price for our check ups or meds – I refused the quote and haggled. In the end, I was able to get the price down to about $2,400 by having a veterinary resident, rather than an actual licensed vet, to do the surgery. Nonetheless, it still burns that this leg cost me considerably more than she did. (As a sidenote, her leg turned out fine; with the exception of some old-man discomfort on cold days, it pretty much functions as normal.)
Obviously, insurance would have helped immensely. Like others in the LA Times post, we only really thought about getting insurance after this major and totally expensive accident. After months and months of comparing plans and crunching numbers to figure out whether it was worth it or not, we ultimately decided that it was worth the $250 or so in annual premiums (plus a $200 deductible – essentially, we’re estimating that her vet bills will come out to over $450/year). Some things still suck, though, like the fact that, like human health insurance, treatment for ailments related to a preexisting condition (i.e., her broken leg) are not covered.
I’m still on the fence about this, though. What do you other pet owners do?