Anyone with pets knows that the unexpected happens: sickness, injury, accidents. Unfortunately, the unexpected often comes at a heavy price (quite literally) for the pet owner. One of the increasing trends in the world of pet ownership is the purchase of pet insurance. With rising costs and fees for veterinary services, pet owners are finding it increasingly beneficial to medically insure their pets so that they are covered under a policy before the unexpected happens. By doing so, the burden of expenses for treatment is significantly lessened should an accident or illness occur. However, there still exists the rising cost of routine veterinary care…
There’s no escaping the fact that the cost of medical care is constantly on the rise. This holds true in the veterinary industry as well—with LASER surgery, advanced cancer treatments, more effective flea and tick control medication, ACL repair and countless other state-of-the-art medical care available for your companion animal. Some pet owners may experience “sticker-shock” when presented with the bill at the end of an appointment. This is usually because the cost of medical care that the pet required was not a budgeted item.
Allow me to make an important, often overlooked comparison about medical care. In human medicine, we rarely, if ever, receive a full bill for services rendered at the end of a doctor’s visit. When was the last time you received a bill by the receptionist after having blood drawn or a CAT scan of your sore knee? It’s never happened to me and has unlikely ever happened to you either. If you did receive a bill in this fashion, you’d really understand what “sticker-shock” is! Most human health care is paid through health insurance (often paid by the employer), so many people have no idea what the true costs of routine human health care are. A $20 “co-pay” is what we’re used to. The current reality is that routine veterinary health care is comparable to routine human health care in quality and thoroughness, but it differs significantly in several key areas:
Many medical services like bloodwork, X-Rays, pharmacy and dentistry can be done right at the veterinary clinic without having to travel to several other specialty locations.
The costs are much lower. Here’s an eye-opener: my current monthly health care insurance bill is five (5!) times higher than the monthly bill I paid for the brand new car I bought right out of college back in the 1980’s ! And I pay for medical insurance—whether I receive health care services or not.
Your wait time in the reception area is likely much shorter.
In veterinary medicine, few pet owners budget for medical care for their pets and are often anxious about the costs associated with getting scheduled care like a physical examination, vaccinations, fecal parasite test, heartworm blood test, tick disease tests and flea and tick medications. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends comprehensive examinations for all cats and dogs every 6 months. Treatment like heartworm prevention is a monthly expense and some vaccines like the Lyme Disease vaccine are every 12 months. Other vaccines like the Distemper vaccine can be given every 3 years. No matter what level of care your dog or cat requires, few of us set aside an account for the routine medical treatments they require in order stay healthy. So, what’s a pet owner to do?
There’s a new innovative concept on the rise in the veterinary industry and it’s aiding pet owners in the battle against sticker-shock and rising prices. They’re called “wellness plans” and popular pet insurance companies like VPI are helping bring them to the forefront of preventative care for pets. These plans are specially designed to help pet owners get all the required health care for their pet, but the cost for this care is spread over 12 months and divided into small monthly payments.
Here’s how it works: the veterinary clinic establishes (based on breed, age and lifestyle) a set proposal for your pet’s routine needs on an annual basis. The clinic adds up the total cost associated with that proposal and divides the number by 12. If you ultimately decide to purchase a wellness plan, your designated credit card or bank account is automatically debited every month 1/12 of the total annual cost. Throughout the year, you receive e-mails and post cards informing you when your pet is due for any of the services included in your plan. You contact us to schedule a visit and we perform the services your pet requires. At the end of each visit, your bill is $0.00. (If your pet needs a service or item that is not part of the pre-arranged wellness plan, or if you buy a new chew toy, you will be charged for that service or item accordingly.)
The value and beauty of this system is the spreading out of costs for your pet’s routine wellness care without having to pay a larger sum for which you were not likely to have budgeted. These plans are quickly gaining popularity, especially since there are no added costs like the interest rates seen in the payment plans with which most people are familiar.
So, while pet owners may not be able to escape the rising prices associated with routine medical care for their pets, they may find themselves significantly less anxious and sticker-shock-ridden by the anticipated monthly payment of a wellness plan. Most of all, they can rest assured knowing that they are providing their beloved pet with vital preventative care all year round!
We honor and celebrate the collective health and wellness of you and your companion animal. For information about how to purchase a wellness plan, please visit our website or call our clinic and ask to speak with one of our knowledgeable staff members.