Pet (health/vet) insurance...

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cheapskate
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Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by cheapskate »

I have 2 large dogs and a cat, and have been self-insuring up until now.

Each visit to the vet is $600 at the minimum and close to $1000 on average where we live (South Bay Area). There isn't much variation between vets around here either in terms of price and service.

What do other pet owners do ? Do they self insure or buy pet insurance ? If the latter, does it cover most visits ? What are the monthly premiums like (for larger dogs ? Mine are of middle age and 145lbs and 85lbs respectively). Can someone name some reputable insurance companies that they have coverage with (and that actually pay out for visits :D ) ? I am mostly looking to buy this for my dogs, all the cats we have had have been quite healthy and have rarely needed vet visits.

And, getting rid of the animals is not an option for us :)
Topic Author
cheapskate
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by cheapskate »

Also, if anyone has recommendations for Vets they absolutely love (who won't do unnecessary procedures for example) in the Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Campbell, Cupertino, San Jose area, I would love to hear those as well...
MikeG62
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by MikeG62 »

Two threads covering the same topic might be of some help.

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=301801

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=161002

I've purchased pet insurance myself (as detailed in those prior threads).
Last edited by MikeG62 on Sat Jun 06, 2020 10:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Nicolas
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by Nicolas »

We have only cats and weighed the insurance options and decided to self-insure. So far it’s working well.
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TxAg
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by TxAg »

I do my own vetting unless it's something major

Ivermectin bought online for heartworm prevention
Flea/tick bought online
Annual shots bought at local Tractor Supply
Feeding quality food (and adopted mutt) equals low maintenance

Oh, Rabies is done every 3 yrs by the County with a small donation

Our dog is well cared for and loved but we also have two small kids who need to attend college one day. A medium four-figure vet bill would be cause for euthanizing. We've made our peace with that.
WildCat48
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by WildCat48 »

We use HealthyPaws and have been super happy with the insurance. No issue covering 90% of our last $15,000 bill with the critical care specialists.
runner3081
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by runner3081 »

TxAg wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 6:10 pm A medium four-figure vet bill would be cause for euthanizing. We've made our peace with that.
We are in the same boat, two older indoor only cats. No vet visits, illness will move us to euthanize. Not for everyone, but we are okay with it.
Mr. Rumples
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by Mr. Rumples »

Self insured for two cats which are now 17. Their health is pretty good though one has a condition which flares up every so often and the treatment is about $200. I spent a lot on their predecessors, but when I got these I decided to just put $100 a month aside. It has grown substantially. I don't plan on spending buckets of $ on myself nor my pets. The vets have, from their reaction, judged it to be cold, but I have to put limits on their care.

Somewhere I remember reading an article about the costs/payback and the conclusion was self insured was better. It might have been a old Consumer Reports article I found online.
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TxAg
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by TxAg »

Mr. Rumples wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 6:33 pm Self insured for two cats which are now 17. Their health is pretty good though one has a condition which flares up every so often and the treatment is about $200. I spent a lot on their predecessors, but when I got these I decided to just put $100 a month aside. It has grown substantially. I don't plan on spending buckets of $ on myself nor my pets. The vets have, from their reaction, judged it to be cold, but I have to put limits on their care.

Somewhere I remember reading an article about the costs/payback and the conclusion was self insured was better. It might have been a old Consumer Reports article I found online.
If they judge it to be cold, it's because it affects their bank account. I live in the city. The vets want you to treat your dog like it's your first born. I am an animal lover, but I'm also a realist...pets are not human children.
go_mets
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by go_mets »

http://truthaboutpetfood.com the dirty secrets about pet food
key component of pet health is the food that pet parents feed them
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by Mudpuppy »

cheapskate wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 5:48 pm I have 2 large dogs and a cat, and have been self-insuring up until now.

Each visit to the vet is $600 at the minimum and close to $1000 on average where we live (South Bay Area). There isn't much variation between vets around here either in terms of price and service.
Are these routine care visits or emergency care visits? This seems high for routine care for a cat, even taking the higher prices of the Bay Area into consideration. Even when I had a cat undergoing cancer treatments with multiple vet visits, tests, and prescriptions, my annual costs for veterinary care, prescriptions, food, litter, and other miscellaneous supplies were not this high.
h82goslw
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by h82goslw »

TxAg wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 6:10 pm A medium four-figure vet bill would be cause for euthanizing. We've made our peace with that.
My Golden Retriever had a $5300 knee operation in January and requires the same surgery on the opposing knee later this year, for another $5300. Everyone in my family, including the two kids that I pay for college, did not once balk at the price. Even the hint of euthanizing the dog was eschewed (yes it was me who brought that up). As a life long dog lover I’ll probably never get another one after this.
Swansea
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by Swansea »

Health Paws has a good reputation and good payout ratio for premiums received. One thing to check is whether or not premiums increase with age.
I have always kept funds aside to pay for any and all procedures.
tashnewbie
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by tashnewbie »

h82goslw wrote: Sat Jun 06, 2020 5:50 am
TxAg wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 6:10 pm A medium four-figure vet bill would be cause for euthanizing. We've made our peace with that.
My Golden Retriever had a $5300 knee operation in January and requires the same surgery on the opposing knee later this year, for another $5300. Everyone in my family, including the two kids that I pay for college, did not once balk at the price. Even the hint of euthanizing the dog was eschewed (yes it was me who brought that up). As a life long dog lover I’ll probably never get another one after this.
Unfortunately a lot of large breed dogs have issues with knees and hips, which can be expensive to repair or replace.
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TxAg
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by TxAg »

h82goslw wrote: Sat Jun 06, 2020 5:50 am
TxAg wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 6:10 pm A medium four-figure vet bill would be cause for euthanizing. We've made our peace with that.
My Golden Retriever had a $5300 knee operation in January and requires the same surgery on the opposing knee later this year, for another $5300. Everyone in my family, including the two kids that I pay for college, did not once balk at the price. Even the hint of euthanizing the dog was eschewed (yes it was me who brought that up). As a life long dog lover I’ll probably never get another one after this.
I fully support your choice to spend your hard earned money as you see fit. I hope your dog is doing well.
FeesR-BullNotBullish
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by FeesR-BullNotBullish »

I recommend against pet insurance. Like anything else you need to be on top of the limitations and exclusions of the policies which are designed for the insurance company to come out ahead. I had a policy from Petplan which I determined was the most thorough coverage we can get in no small part because it included dental. When we took the cat in for a big dental job, my claim was denied because it had been more than a year since his previous vet appointment. I hadn't realized that annual exams were a requirement per my policy.

If you look into insurance, check out The Wirecutter's reviews. The reviews are a couple years old, and I noticed they dinged Petplan for the annual wellness exam requirement.
JackoC
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by JackoC »

h82goslw wrote: Sat Jun 06, 2020 5:50 am
TxAg wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 6:10 pm A medium four-figure vet bill would be cause for euthanizing. We've made our peace with that.
My Golden Retriever had a $5300 knee operation in January and requires the same surgery on the opposing knee later this year, for another $5300. Everyone in my family, including the two kids that I pay for college, did not once balk at the price. Even the hint of euthanizing the dog was eschewed (yes it was me who brought that up). As a life long dog lover I’ll probably never get another one after this.
Lots of times big end of life bills for pets are with little hope of a solution. We euthanized our 'pit bull' (Dogo Argentino mix actually she seemed to be), aka The Best Dog Ever, a couple of years ago, after around $4k. But there was something terribly wrong neurologically, no guarantee further action would accomplish anything but making her suffer more. If it was fixing her legs for $10k, even though hard to imagine actually doing it, and I understand on some level when people protest 'what about human needs?', I bet we would have.
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cheapskate
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by cheapskate »

Mudpuppy wrote: Sat Jun 06, 2020 2:19 am
cheapskate wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 5:48 pm I have 2 large dogs and a cat, and have been self-insuring up until now.

Each visit to the vet is $600 at the minimum and close to $1000 on average where we live (South Bay Area). There isn't much variation between vets around here either in terms of price and service.
Are these routine care visits or emergency care visits? This seems high for routine care for a cat, even taking the higher prices of the Bay Area into consideration. Even when I had a cat undergoing cancer treatments with multiple vet visits, tests, and prescriptions, my annual costs for veterinary care, prescriptions, food, litter, and other miscellaneous supplies were not this high.
Routine visits for dogs and cats (for shots that are due each year or once every 2 + fecal exams, blood tests etc) run about $400/animal, IIRC. This seems reasonable to me, but any visit outside of the once a year physical tends to be expensive. My latest visit was for a wound on my dogs paw ran $600 (something poked her, she was bleeding and the paw was sore). The Vet decided to give her 3 shots, local anesthesia, and a minor "flush/cleanout", and prescribed Amoxicillin for 10 days ($75 for 20 pills) . I don't know if my vet is performing unnecessary procedures, but determining that is really hard, I'd need to drive the animal to multiple vets to get a second/third opinion. Teeth cleaning back in Feb for the same dog was around $750 (done under sedation).

Thanks for all of the input. I will take a look at wirecutter for reviews on the insurance policies mentioned here. I suspect that my premiums are going to run high. My dogs and cat are older (age uncertain since all are rescues, but all are definitely past middle age).
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by Mudpuppy »

cheapskate wrote: Sat Jun 06, 2020 12:17 pm
Mudpuppy wrote: Sat Jun 06, 2020 2:19 am
cheapskate wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 5:48 pm I have 2 large dogs and a cat, and have been self-insuring up until now.

Each visit to the vet is $600 at the minimum and close to $1000 on average where we live (South Bay Area). There isn't much variation between vets around here either in terms of price and service.
Are these routine care visits or emergency care visits? This seems high for routine care for a cat, even taking the higher prices of the Bay Area into consideration. Even when I had a cat undergoing cancer treatments with multiple vet visits, tests, and prescriptions, my annual costs for veterinary care, prescriptions, food, litter, and other miscellaneous supplies were not this high.
Routine visits for dogs and cats (for shots that are due each year or once every 2 + fecal exams, blood tests etc) run about $400/animal, IIRC. This seems reasonable to me, but any visit outside of the once a year physical tends to be expensive. My latest visit was for a wound on my dogs paw ran $600 (something poked her, she was bleeding and the paw was sore). The Vet decided to give her 3 shots, local anesthesia, and a minor "flush/cleanout", and prescribed Amoxicillin for 10 days ($75 for 20 pills) . I don't know if my vet is performing unnecessary procedures, but determining that is really hard, I'd need to drive the animal to multiple vets to get a second/third opinion. Teeth cleaning back in Feb for the same dog was around $750 (done under sedation).

Thanks for all of the input. I will take a look at wirecutter for reviews on the insurance policies mentioned here. I suspect that my premiums are going to run high. My dogs and cat are older (age uncertain since all are rescues, but all are definitely past middle age).
I will preface this, as I have with my other veterinary posts, with the caveat that my veterinarian is probably the Boglehead of veterinarians (low overhead due to choices like being in the same building for decades, only upgrading equipment when there's a medically significant improvement in outcomes from the new equipment, and so on). So his prices tend to be lower than most other veterinarians in town and he does not nickel and dime his clients. That said, his costs for your wound care scenario would only be about $250 (and the emergency vet in town would only be about $400-500). A cat dental procedure is about $300 for the pre-op blood work, cleaning, and post-op prescriptions, plus another $15 per tooth pulled. I don't have a dog, but from hearing his staff talk to people on the phone about dog dental cleanings, it's about the same price for a small dog and about $100-150 more for larger dogs.

I've taken my cats to other veterinarians when my veterinarian has been out of town and I've experienced a wide range of charges at different clinics. I actively avoid the largest practice in town because they're constantly buying the latest and greatest equipment, and their prices reflect that overhead. They also have so many veterinarians, you can't guarantee the best ones will be the ones tending your pets if they have to stay. I've also gone to other single-veterinarian or small multi-veterinarian practices on the "fancier" side of town and have experienced higher prices.

The best way to find a good (high-quality), cost-effective veterinarian is to ask around with other pet owners and to pay attention to how long they've been at their current location. If they're relatively new in, or recently moved to, a higher cost-of-living part of the area, their prices are going to reflect that overhead. If they've had a long-established practice in a cheaper part of the area, then there's promise that their prices are lower due to lower overhead, but you'd want to ask around about their quality. Both my regular vet and the emergency vet I use have long-established practices in the cheaper part of town and good reviews from other pet owners.
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cheapskate
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by cheapskate »

Mudpuppy wrote: Sat Jun 06, 2020 1:26 pm I will preface this, as I have with my other veterinary posts, with the caveat that my veterinarian is probably the Boglehead of veterinarians (low overhead due to choices like being in the same building for decades, only upgrading equipment when there's a medically significant improvement in outcomes from the new equipment, and so on). So his prices tend to be lower than most other veterinarians in town and he does not nickel and dime his clients.
That seems like the ideal Vet for me. Any chance he is in the San Jose/South Bay Area :D ?
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by Mudpuppy »

cheapskate wrote: Sat Jun 06, 2020 2:27 pm
Mudpuppy wrote: Sat Jun 06, 2020 1:26 pm I will preface this, as I have with my other veterinary posts, with the caveat that my veterinarian is probably the Boglehead of veterinarians (low overhead due to choices like being in the same building for decades, only upgrading equipment when there's a medically significant improvement in outcomes from the new equipment, and so on). So his prices tend to be lower than most other veterinarians in town and he does not nickel and dime his clients.
That seems like the ideal Vet for me. Any chance he is in the San Jose/South Bay Area :D ?
Unfortunately not, and my uncle that lives in that area does not have any pets, so I couldn't ask him for recommendations. Gilroy would probably have some more cost-effective options, but that's a long drive to see a veterinarian.
StoopieHippo
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by StoopieHippo »

Unfortunately most insurances will exclude any preexisting conditions, so you may not receive any benefit if your pets have chronic issues.

My cat is insured with HealthyPaws and I've had amazing service from them. My cat has had a benign tumor removed (~$6k, but I paid about $650) and any little bump I find on her, I just go and have checked. Since she had the tumor removed after she was already insured, all cat-mother freakouts have been covered without issue. They also don't have a lifetime max out of pocket, which you'll find on plans from Trupanion, etc. If your pet is especially problem prone and you don't mind the monthly cost (my cat is ~$33/mo as an 8 year old cat), I would suggest HealthyPaws.
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by scubadiver »

scubadiver
Last edited by scubadiver on Sat Jul 11, 2020 12:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Trader Joe
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by Trader Joe »

cheapskate wrote: Fri Jun 05, 2020 5:48 pm I have 2 large dogs and a cat, and have been self-insuring up until now.

Each visit to the vet is $600 at the minimum and close to $1000 on average where we live (South Bay Area). There isn't much variation between vets around here either in terms of price and service.

What do other pet owners do ? Do they self insure or buy pet insurance ? If the latter, does it cover most visits ? What are the monthly premiums like (for larger dogs ? Mine are of middle age and 145lbs and 85lbs respectively). Can someone name some reputable insurance companies that they have coverage with (and that actually pay out for visits :D ) ? I am mostly looking to buy this for my dogs, all the cats we have had have been quite healthy and have rarely needed vet visits.

And, getting rid of the animals is not an option for us :)
I always self insure. No problems at all.
bayview
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by bayview »

Holy cow! $600-$1000?? We live in an at least MCOL city (very expensive compared to state averages), and the bill for my 17-year-old cat’s annual visits averages $80-100. When I lived in the East Bay about 7 years ago, the charges were similar. (No doubt they’ve increase, but I doubt 6 to 10-fold.

She is FIV+ as a result of being attacked by a stray 5-6 years ago, and starting to become symptomatic. We’re not even doing diagnostic work ups, as FIV is incurable. Trying to treat would make her miserable and would be pointless. As long as she eats and drinks ok and can wobble out to the back deck, that tells me she’s reasonably content, and we’ll continue to take it one day at a time. We’ve had two trips to the pet emergency hospital for UTIs (just as my children did when they were young, she doesn’t get sick during office hours), which averaged about $250 each.

I have gotten nothing but sympathy and support in my preference for palliative care from the regular vets and emergency vets, possibly because I’m a blubbering mess when the discussion arises.

I’m actually curious as to what exactly is going on inside her, but having her frightened and in pain and miserable from any testing far outweighs satisfying my curiosity. :| I completely understand treating younger, otherwise healthy pets that are reasonably expected to make full recoveries.

At any rate, we self-insure.
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Lee_WSP
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by Lee_WSP »

I always self insure unless the worst case scenario involves bankruptcy.

Pets do not under any circumstances warrant bankruptcy.
keystone
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Re: Pet (health/vet) insurance...

Post by keystone »

My family is on the verge of getting two kittens and I recently looked at rates. My conclusion is that it's not worth it if you feel you can comfortably pay out of pocket for the worst case scenario. Like most insurance, chances are high that you will end up paying more in premiums than you would pay in total vet bills over their lifetime.
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