This past month, I had to say goodbye to our 17 year old feline fur child, the fabulous and wonderful Ella “Peeper” Day. Adopted at the tender age of eight weeks old, she was such a joy, full of unconditional love and a true inspiration. In 2012 she was diagnosed with a feline hyperthyroid disorder which was treated by holistic food and medication prescribed by her attending veterinarian. However, in April (2014) she became extremely ill and lost even more weight even though she was still taking her medication (compounded by a wonderful compounding pharmacy, Road Runner Pharmacy in Phoenix, AZ). We brought her to a local veterinarian and was misdiagnosed. On April 17th, she was rushed to the Golf Rose Animal Hospital in Schaumburg, Illinois as she was unable to hold anything down and was in a state of collapse. I consulted with the veterinarian and CVT, explained what was going on, and it was discovered through X-rays and Ultrasound diagnostics that Peeper was suffering from kidney carcinoma. In addition, there was a calcification shown in the right lung. In layman’s terms, Peeper had developed Stage 3/4 cancer. At that time, I made the decision to release her from her suffering and pain. Heartbreaking? Yes. Was it the right thing to do? Yes, absolutely.
Currently, there are many different animal/pet insurance companies and plans on the mainstream market. Premiums are based upon the level of the plan you select for your fur (or feathered) child or children. Below is a list of things I do not approve of:
1. Pre-existing Conditions. We abolished this nonsense for humans through The Affordable Health Care Act. I would like to see the same for our beloved pets as well.
2. Age restrictions. I consider this clause all wrong. When our pets become older, they can develop certain disorders, illness and disease. The only reason I can come up is simple – the pet health insurance company isn’t concerned about your beloved pet, only the company’s bottom line.
3. Caps on Benefits. There should not be any limit on benefits under the contract or plan for your pet.
4. Reimbursement of Plan Benefits. The majority of pet insurance plans make the pet parent pay for the veterinarian visit, services performed and prescription drugs at the time of the visit. You have to submit the claim and wait up to two, three or more weeks to receive a check from the pet health insurance. I do not see this as a solution for pet owners at all. One of the reasons why you have health insurance in place is the provider submits the charges to the health insurance company and they are reimbursed within 30 days or less.
5. Not Covering Routine Care Exams, Dental Cleanings. Preventive medicine is the hallmark and key for everyone and this includes our pets. Cats are notorious for hiding illness and disease. Pet insurance plans should be required to cover yearly or bi-yearly exams including labs, X-rays, dental cleanings and wellness exams. I would also like to see age stage exams such as mandatory X-rays to the animal’s abdominal. The major organs are the kidneys, liver, pancreas, spleen, stomach, gallbladder, adrenals, small and large intestines and the colon.
6. Not Covering Alternative Medical Procedures. As humans, we can choose to either forgo traditional medicine or combine traditional health care with alternative or homeopathic medicine. Our beloved pets deserve to have the same choice. While researching this subject matter, I noticed several well-known pet insurance companies refuse to cover any alternative medical procedures and treatment at all. This should not be.
The time for a PPO or HMO plan for our pets is crucial. By revamping and having the pet parent pay a co-payment at the time of the visit to the veterinarian will greatly improve the health and welfare of our beloved pets. This would promote regular, routine visits plus any emergency situations that would be necessary. I would like to believe that many DVMs would whole-heartily support such a health insurance plan as well.
By: Ellen R. Day