"So Glad I Had Pet Insurance" story - cats and lilies do not mix

I was chatting with an Embraced pet parent, LeAnne, a few months ago and she told me her crazy-awful story about her two cats and their adventures with lilies. I've used this situation in several conversations with journalists since; it's definitely a "glad I had pet insurance story" for pet health insurance month.

Here is LeAnne's story in her own words.


I am 33, active, not overweight, and generally healthy, yet I injured a disc in my back by sneezing and then injured it further by coughing a few weeks later. Part of my disc actually detached from the rest and the detached piece floated out and was pressing so hard on my sciatic nerve that it was causing my whole right leg to go numb. I could barely walk. I work for a large corporation that offers several options for health insurance, and since I historically only have preventative-type visits in a year, I always choose the lower monthly cost option with high copay and deductibles. This need for surgery was very unexpected and it cost me $5,000 out of pocket, and I was off work for two weeks, then restricted for another three weeks. 

During the two weeks that I was at home, many friends, relatives, and coworkers sent flowers. Typically, I really don't like when people send me flowers, as I am always afraid that my over-curious cats will knock over a vase and hurt themselves and my floors. I decorated my back patio with all of the flowers instead of keeping them in the house. One Thursday afternoon I got yet another delivery (from the team that I manage at work.) I was out of vases, and the flowers hadn't bloomed yet, so I put them in the kitchen sink. I hate to sound ungrateful, but I just didn't know what to do with all of them! Before heading to bed, my fiance asked what I was going to do with them and I told him just to
leave them, I would figure it out in the morning. 

Cat tree Stella and FloraThe next day I decided to get on some work conference calls and do some work from home. I was busy all day and didn't even remember that I left the flowers in the sink in the kitchen. That afternoon, Flora (who traditionally DOESN'T get into things--that's Stella's job) walked into the family room where I was working and started throwing up. She was throwing up leaves. I ran to the lowers in the sink and saw teeth marks all over them. I also noticed about half of the flowers had bloomed overnight. I know that Easter lilies are bad or cats and when I saw the bloomed flowers, I knew they looked like a type of lily, so started googling. I quickly saw pictures of the kind of lily that as in my sink--it appeared to be an Asiatic Lily--which were labeled as highly poisonous to cats. 

Due to my surgery, I wasn't even permitted to carry my cats, so I called my mom in a panic and told her that we had to get them both to the vet. It was Flo that was throwing up, but I wasn't going to leave Stella alone in the event she ingested them and was going to start throwing up next.

Because it was late in the day Friday and my vet knew how serious it was, she had me take them both to MedVet, a 24-hour vet hospital. I talked to my vet most of the way there, trying to decide if I should admit Stella too, and she said that even if Stella had brushed up against the pollen and licked it off of herself, she was in a lot of danger. Well, ironically, one of the funny things about Stella is that she licks EVERYTHING. Like a dog! She especially likes to lick Flo--constantly. Knowing that Flo Bed Stella & Florahad certainly played around in the flowers long enough to have brushed up against pollen, and then had obviously eaten the plant was enough--now I was scared for both of them. My vet had explained that lily ingestion causes kidney failure, and I was beside myself with concern, as I lost a cat about 3 years ago due to unexplained kidney failure at the age of 6 (no flowers that time, we have never been able to figure that out.) What I DID know is that there is no way to fix it or reverse it. 

As the severity of this sunk in, I knew I was in for a huge bill. This was within less than two weeks of my surgery. I was already extremely concerned about the bills I was facing for my own health over the upcoming months. But, I reminded myself that this was why I had two things--pet insurance and a credit card. Granted, I HATE using credit cards, and between the cats and me, my balance is higher than it's ever been, but Embrace reimbursed a large portion of the expense, and I each month I am chipping away at the rest.

Stella and FloraLike all pet owners, my cats mean the world to me. I felt incredibly guilty that I left those flowers in the house, and I couldn't imagine losing them. When reviewing the statistics on lily toxicity with my vet and the staff at MedVet, I was truly bracing for the possibility of losing one or both of them. Having insurance allowed me to make decisions based upon what was best for them, not what I could afford. That peace of mind was so important to me--especially since my body and mind was already under a lot of stress with my own operation. 

I appreciate what Embrace offers and what you do to help your customers through situations like this. I plan to keep insurance for these two for the rest of their lives--I can't afford NOT to.


Flora's vet bill total was $1,410 and Stella's was $1,305. With their deductible of $400 and reimbursement percentage of 80%, LeAnne received back $1,500. Her policy premium for both cats is $356 a year - less than a dollar a day.

Related Posts:
September is Pet Health Insurance Month
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - painful choice to euthanize
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - close encounter with dental floss
Guest Post: can I get pet insurance for that?
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - vet techs need pet insurance too!
Guest Post: Pet Insurance Q&Amp;A from Dr Patrick Mahaney
"So Glad I had Pet Insurance" story - hip dysplasia surgery for 1 year old German Coolie
"So Glad I had Pet Insurance" story - surgery for vicious dog attack
"So Glad I Had Pet Insurance" story - cats and lilies do not mix



"So Glad I had Pet Insurance" story - surgery for vicious dog attack

This claim was Embrace's first big claim and I couldn't believe how perfectly it illustrates why you should get insurance - you just can't imagine a scenario like this. Poor Storm, an Akita puppy, was attacked by the dog next door. Norma Jean tells the story in her own words.


DSC00019_editedStorm was in our fenced backyard with Rich (my husband). He was running along the fence when our neighbors Malamute managed to get a part of his head under the fence and as Storm ran by he grabbed Storm's right front right leg and tried to drag him under the fence. Storm was just a few months old and the other dog was about 6-7 yrs old. My husband had to go over the 6 foot fence and beat the dog off to free Storm.

We rushed Storm to the emergency clinic. His poor little leg was barely attached and when the people at the clinic saw it, their first thought was to try to save his life. The bone was shattered and he Storm after forelimb surgerywas just barely alive. They managed to stabilize him and found that the main artery going to his foot was still intact. Our Hero, Dr.Paul Moss, did surgery on him for hours and Storm came through it. He had an external metal brace with pins that kept the bones in place and Dr Moss adjusted it for his growing leg about once a month.

Storm had a number of other surgeries over the next year and a half. He is now 6yrs old and weighs about 150lbs and limps a little, but other than that he is doing pretty well.

Now for Embrace. A few days before the accident, I was on the net looking at Pet Insurance… I checked with a number of the companies, but when I spoke with the person at Embrace (I think it was Laura), she was so nice and caring that I decided the take out a policy right there and then. I paid the insurance premium.

DSC00460ALittle did I know how soon we would need it. Storm's accident happened just a few days later …we didn’t even have a copy of the policy yet. I call Embrace and told them what had happened and they were wonderful. There was never a question about their paying the bills and to top it off they stayed with us by phone and email the whole way. They were rooting for Storm as much as we were.

We have been with Embrace since that time and had other claims and they have been just great. They pay more quickly than our own health insurance! And we feel as though they are a part of our family. They are always there when we need them and I recommend them to anyone who has a pet.


I've written about Storm's claim details before but an update on all Storm's claims over the six years insured by Embrace is as follows:

Diagnosis Claimed Covered Paid
Dog attacked - fracture left radius and ulna 1,927.92 1,797.14 1,277.71
Follow up visits and removal of ring fixator 1,251.42 918.62 734.90
Follow up care, right rear leg patella luxation 185.81 119.99 95.99
Rebandage leg 100.00 100.00 80.00
Recheck ulnar ostectomy 100.00 100.00 80.00
Recheck ulnar ostectomy 25.00 25.00 20.00
Follow up reck on ulnar ostectomy 75.00 75.00 60.00
Follow up radiograph on Ulnar Ostectomy 25.00 25.00 20.00
Ulnar Osteotomy 766.93 727.73 582.18
Recheck Ostectomy 50.00 50.00 40.00
Bilateral Medial Luxating Patellas 1,377.52 1,266.72 853.38
Re-stabilze Tibial Crest 545.33 461.05 368.84
Medial Patella Luxation, Losing Weight 463.33 394.89 315.91
recheck x2 50.00 50.00 40.00
re-operate left medial patella luxation 192.00 70.00 56.00
dermatitis - insect bite 89.00 33.00 26.40
dermatitis, dermatophytosis and pyoderma 315.82 48.00 38.40
dermatitis, alopecia, trauma or insect bite 89.98 33.00 26.40
Upper Resp Infection, Conjunctivitis 55.70 33.00 0.00
Lick Granuloma, Dermatitis 104.95 33.00 0.00
Dermatitis, Allergies 130.45 48.00 0.00
Forelimb lameness and Diarrhea 235.62 207.42 5.94
Diarrhea 235.36 211.10 168.88
Total 8,392.14 6,827.66 4,890.93

Related Posts:
September is Pet Health Insurance Month
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - painful choice to euthanize
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - close encounter with dental floss
Guest Post: can I get pet insurance for that?
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - vet techs need pet insurance too!
Guest Post: Pet Insurance Q&Amp;A from Dr Patrick Mahaney
"So Glad I had Pet Insurance" story - hip dysplasia surgery for 1 year old German Coolie
"So Glad I had Pet Insurance" story - surgery for vicious dog attack
"So Glad I Had Pet Insurance" story - cats and lilies do not mix



"So Glad I had Pet Insurance" story - hip dysplasia surgery for 1 year old German Coolie

Being Pet Health Insurance Month, it's time for a "so glad I had pet insurance" story. How's this for a good one. A one year old German Coolie (yes, it's a real cool looking dog too) based in Salem, NY who unexpectedly needed hip dysplasia surgery, for a total cost of $5,417.

Here's Amy H's story in her own words: 

2012-07-01_16-07-51_500When my 1 year old German Coolie Elliot Cool came up three legged lame after a fun weekend of
running and playing, I knew something was wrong right away.  After bringing him to the vet for an exam and radiographs, my worst fears were confirmed.  Elliot Cool was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and would need hip replacement surgery if he was going to be able to live out a full, active life without constant, debilitating pain.  

DSC00321I had never doubted the wisdom of signing Elliot Cool up with Embrace pet insurance when he joined my family at 4 months of age last year.  I have been an Embrace customer since 2008, I know the quality of customer service Embrace provides.  As a financial planner, I also know the importance of having a plan in place for unexpected financial emergencies.  For my policies with Embrace, I have chosen a higher deductible and higher co-pay, in order to keep affordable coverage for those expenses that I can't plan for.

Elliot THRI never anticipated needing to use the coverage for Elliot Cool so soon, but I am so thankful Embrace was there for us when we needed them.  Without Embrace, I would not have been able to provide Elliot Cool the surgery he needed to ensure he would be able to live a pain free life.  

Thank you, Embrace!

There were a couple of vet visits to determine the diagnosis and then an initial specialist visit at Tufts University but then the main surgery details are as follows:

ITEM BILLED AMOUNT
Waste $10.00
Chem 25 $62.00
CBC & Platelet Count $60.00
Micro Exam Blood Smear $0.00
UA A/O $28.00
Radiograph $88.00
Rad Addl $79.00
Total Hip Series 4 views $292.00
Butorphanol 10mg/ml CIV $13.44
Atipamezole 5mg/ml x 0.31 $10.00
Atipamezole 5mg/ml x 0.15 $10.00
Dexdomitor 0.5mg/ml x 0.31 $10.00
Dexdomitor 0.5mg/ml x 0.15 $10.00
Anesthesia 2hrs $220.00
Anesthesia Pre Work Up $54.00
Anesthesia Disposables/Agents $81.00
Hospitalization $58.00
Anaerobic ID & Aerobic $174.00
Lab Accession Fee - Send Outs $3.00
Daily Professional Care $69.00
Cefazolin x 1 $18.00
Total Hip Series 4 views $292.00
Surgery Supplies $14.00
Surgery Implants $1,941.00
Total Hip Replacement Unilat $1,178.00
Cefazolin Sodium 100mg/ml $10.94
Methadone 10mg/ml C II $29.04
Hospitalization $58.00
Daily Professional Care $69.00
Cefazolin x 1 $18.00
Meloxicam 1.5mg/ml Susp x 2.60 $7.57
Hospitalization $39.00
Daily Professional Care $69.00
 TOTAL $5,074.99

Eliot Cool had a $500 annual deductible, an 80% reimbursement percentage and a $10,000 annual maximum, with prescription drug coverage not chosen, for a monthly premium of $24.91.

The surgery reimbursement was calculated as follows:

STEP 1: Calculate Potential Refund
  Billed Amount:         $5,074.99
  Covered Charges:       $5,074.99
  Annual deductible remaining     $122.00
  subtotal     $4,952.99
  Your Share of the claim (20%)     $990.60
Potential Refund          $3,962.39
           
           
STEP 2: Compare against annual maximum
     Annual Maximum       $10,000.00
     Prior refunds for this policy year     $0.00
     Coverage remaining     $10,000.00
           
Total refund is:       $3,962.39

Related Posts:
September is Pet Health Insurance Month
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - painful choice to euthanize
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - close encounter with dental floss
Guest Post: can I get pet insurance for that?
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - vet techs need pet insurance too!
Guest Post: Pet Insurance Q&Amp;A from Dr Patrick Mahaney
"So Glad I had Pet Insurance" story - hip dysplasia surgery for 1 year old German Coolie
"So Glad I had Pet Insurance" story - surgery for vicious dog attack
"So Glad I Had Pet Insurance" story - cats and lilies do not mix


Guest Post: Pet Insurance Q&Amp;A from Dr Patrick Mahaney

Given that it's Pet Health Insurance Month this month, I asked Dr Patrick to interview me about pet insurance, asking all the questions he's wondered about from his role as a veterinarian focused on integrative medicine.

Here are some of the questions he asks me in the recording below:

  • What percentage or number of pet owners in the US have insurance for their pet?
  • What are the top canine and feline health claims?
  • What is the main reason pet owners pursue health insurance for their cat or dog?
  • Does the typical Embraced pet owner keep their pet on Embrace's pet insurance throughout the pet's life?
  • Does Embrace cover any pre-existing conditions?
  • Does Embrace cover any complementary and alternative medicine, such as acupuncture, physical therapy, chiropractic, and so on
  • plus discussion on medical history reviews and pre-certifications amongst other things

 The answers to these questions and more are discussed in the audio below.

Laura Bennett & Patrick Mahaney on the topic of Pet Insurance

[btw, sorry about the occasional whistling sound coming through the recording - the ambient noise where Patrick was was a bit noisier than we had expected]

Related Posts:
September is Pet Health Insurance Month
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - painful choice to euthanize
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - close encounter with dental floss
Guest Post: can I get pet insurance for that?
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - vet techs need pet insurance too!
Guest Post: Pet Insurance Q&Amp;A from Dr Patrick Mahaney
"So Glad I had Pet Insurance" story - hip dysplasia surgery for 1 year old German Coolie
"So Glad I had Pet Insurance" story - surgery for vicious dog attack
"So Glad I Had Pet Insurance" story - cats and lilies do not mix
Other posts by Dr Patrick Mahaney


Dr Patrick Mahaney Dr. Mahaney is a veterinarian from the University of Pennsylvania and a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist, having been inspired by his own chronic pain from Intervertebral Disc Disease to provide accupuncture to his veterinary clients. In addition to Dr Mahaney's house call integrative veterinary medicine business, California Pet Acupuncture and Wellness, he sees patients on an in-clinic basis at Veterinary Cancer Group in Culver City, CA.

Dr Mahaney writes a veterinary column (Patrick's Blog) for www.PatrickMahaney.com and contributes to a variety of media, including Perez Hilton's TeddyHilton.com, Fido Friendly, Veterinary Practice News, Healthy Pets and People with Dr Patrick on OutImpactRadio.com, and MSNBC Sunday with Alex Witt and Career Day. His first book, The Uncomfortable Vet, will be available in 2012 through Havenhurst Books



"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - vet techs need pet insurance too!

Continuing the theme for Pet Health Insurance Month, here's a story from Chrissy, one of the Veterinary Account Representatives at Embrace. I love seeing Bella in the office and had no idea of this story until today.


I have worked as a technician in the Cleveland, OH area for the past 10 years.  While I always thought pet insurance was an excellent idea for clients, I never dreamed I would need it for myself.  Being in the profession, getting a hefty staff discount, and having a whole bunch of great contacts in the field, I did not foresee the cost of veterinary care ever becoming a problem.  I could not have been more wrong! 

Rewind to Christmas Eve 2007.  Bella, at the time a 2 year old pit mix, was always getting into things she wasn’t supposed to. She was obsessed with having things in her mouth so it didn’t surprise me when she vomited that morning.  However, a few hours later come breakfast time, I started getting concerned when she was not interested in her food.  She is a chow hound so that was very out of the ordinary.

As the day progressed, Bella really started to go downhill.  She had vomited many times and it had that characteristic, foul, obstructed smell.  I knew we were in trouble and as much as I wanted to try to make it wait a day and half until my hospital opened, I knew Bella needed immediate attention.  Off to the emergency clinic we went.

After bloodwork and x-rays, it was determined it was either an obstruction or something irritating the bowels passing through.  It was hard to tell exactly what was causing her symptoms as nothing was very clear or apparent on the x-rays.  They hospitalized her, put her on IV fluids, gave appropriate medications, and decided to see what tomorrow would bring and hope whatever she ate would pass on its own.

She improved somewhat on Christmas morning (even chewed out her IV line 3 times!), but still didn’t want to eat and the improvement was very short lived.  When I came to pick her up on December 26, I was told exploratory surgery was in her best interest.  I took Bella to the hospital I worked at, as we were now open after the holiday to be opened up.  The surgery was less than routine because there was not one object that was causing the problem!  She was obstructed in multiple places with tons of hair! Yes, hair! The doctor had to open her stomach, pylorus, and small intestines in a 3.5 hour surgery.  The copious amounts of hair had her poor intestines so inflamed that the doctor even felt it was necessary to biopsy, just in case.

So we think the worst is over……but not quite!  Back to the ER we go with Bella that night due to complications with her protein levels being so low from not eating for 3 days.  Fortunately, after another day of hospitalization and some more IV fluids, she was ready to eat and on the upswing within a few days.

After all was said and done, I paid over $2500 out of pocket between the ER visits and surgery – which was a HUGE hit being just out of college.  The Emergency doctor was even very generous, giving me a 25% veterinary professional discount for Bella’s visits. 

After pretty much breaking the bank with this ordeal, I have been a pet insurance advocate ever since and will never be without it again! 

This is just one example of why even veterinary staff members need pet insurance too.  You can never plan for accidents and illnesses that necessitate you visiting an ER or Specialist and these things always seem to happen at the most inopportune times!

Related Posts:
September is Pet Health Insurance Month
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - painful choice to euthanize
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - close encounter with dental floss
Guest Post: can I get pet insurance for that?
"Wish I'd had pet insurance" story - vet techs need pet insurance too!
Guest Post: Pet Insurance Q&Amp;A from Dr Patrick Mahaney
"So Glad I had Pet Insurance" story - hip dysplasia surgery for 1 year old German Coolie
"So Glad I had Pet Insurance" story - surgery for vicious dog attack
"So Glad I Had Pet Insurance" story - cats and lilies do not mix