If you ask, some vets will work out a payment plan with you to pay for emergency vet care. Not all vets are able to do this and if they don’t, this doesn’t mean they don’t care. You should never count on or expect that a vet will allow you to make payments. Some people have the idea that vets make a lot of money, like people doctors. In general this is incorrect information. Many people who become vets do so because they love and care so much about animals and they want to help. This doesn’t mean they’re getting rich off of it! A vet’s average annual salary is probably much less than you may think. If your vet turns you down when you ask if you can make payments, don’t automatically assume it’s because they don’t care. It may very well be that they themselves are not financially equipped to do this.

Unless you have pet insurance, the cost of emergency medical care for your pet can be staggering. I recently watched an episode of Cesar Millan where the dog ate some things he shouldn’t have and required emergency surgery to save his life. The bill was $5,000.00! In some cases, people choose to put their pet down if they cannot afford the medical care needed to save it’s life. Should emergency medical care become necessary and you are not financially able to pay for it, don’t own a pet until such time as you are in a position to care for it properly including emergency care. If you don’t have a piggy bank fund for this, it would be a good idea to create one. Stash some money away every week, even if it’s just a few dollars. When you need it, those few dollars may have grown to a substantial amount, perhaps even enough to save your pet’s life.

If you do have pet insurance, make sure to read & understand the policy completely including any small print. Some policies require that you pay the bill up front and then you are reimbursed after you submit the bill to the insurance company. Some reimburse the full amount, some reimburse a percentage of your cost. If you feel you’d not be able to pay the up-front cost and wait for reimbursement, you should find a different pet insurance company. It’s helpful to know what your pet insurance covers and what it doesn’t or you may find yourself dealing with a very rude awakening.

Is Pet Insurance Worth the Cost?

We got pet insurance for all our dogs in January 2013. Currently for three dogs our monthly insurance bill is about $120.00 with 80% reimbursement. I would have liked to go with a higher reimbursement level but that cost was a little too pricey for us. However, I’m really pretty content with 80%. If we’d have had pet insurance before Riley had to have his hip surgeries we would have been reimbursed a total of about $1,920.00 which is quite a substantial sum! We also could have been reimbursed 80% of his physical therapy and his chiropractic bills which would have added probably another $1,000.00 back into our pockets.

We have a $250.00 annual deductible for each dog and since they don’t have to visit the vet often we don’t hit that mark too often. Unfortunately, this means that the insurance hasn’t been real helpful for the everyday kind of things people have to take their dogs to the vet for like I wish it would. We are currently being reimbursed $32.00 of the monthly $40.00 cost for his SLO antibiotics which I’m grateful for. But when you think of getting back 80% of a eye-popping emergency bill or surgery like we did — oh YES! It’s definitely worth it! Pet insurance is like car or medical insurance for people. You hate to fork out the money for the monthly premiums but when you need it you’re real happy to have it!

For more information and ideas, visit the Humane Society of the United States web site. There’s a video here: Trouble Affording Veterinary Care

This article was updated on 0n 04/02/2014


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