Guest Post: Veterinary Perspective on Pet Insurance

In Pet Health Insurance Month, Dr Riggs weighs in with his veterinary perspective on pet insurance.


If you talk to a number of vets about pet insurance, you will get many different opinions. There are many vets, like myself who have researched and done my due diligence, and see it as a win/win/win situation for the client, the vet, and most importantly the pet.

Some vets think pet insurance is evil, and the industry is trying to control veterinary medicine and tell us how to practice medicine, as it has human insurance.

Then you have the third group…"there’s pet insurance???"

It is true the early pet insurance companies were not very good. I initially had bad experiences with pet insurance myself.  This is where the newer pet insurance companies started to pop up, and thrive.  The newer companies, such as Embrace, have looked at Sweden, United Kingdom, and other parts of the world to see how to develop a new model.  In the United Kingdom, it is estimated around 25% of pet owners have pet insurance as opposed to the United States , where less than 1% have pet insurance.  The newer companies, have great customer service, quick claim payments, and almost nothing for the vet to fill out.  They truly have learned from others' past mistakes.

I think a lot of “older vets” got a bad taste for pet insurance because they had that same bad initial experience I did. The early pet insurance companies often denied claims, had bulky forms vets had to fill out and crummy customer service. That became a reflection on the vet, because they recommended it. It simply was not worth the effort.

In addition, some vets equate pet insurance to our human health insurance. I don’t need to tell anyone how messed up our healthcare system is. Some are concerned that it will become managed care and the insuraners will dictate how the vets would practice. There is a lot of fear and misunderstanding about pet insurance and veterinarians.

Pet Insurance is Indemnity insurance. It is not managed care. I compare pet insurance to car insurance. You pay the insurance company to protect yourself from some unseen problem. This prevents you from having to pay a large sum of your own money. Pet insurance is the same way, the policy holder pays a small monthly amount and if your dog eats someone underwear, or whatever, then you are protected from the high cost of the surgery. You hope you never need to use insurance but it is there, in case you need it and it takes away the problem of not having enough money to be able to treat your pet, which is a very difficult situation, for the vet, when you know you can help an animal and the people can’t afford it.

Managed care is not the intent of pet insurance nor the vets. Vets would not, and could not, allow that to happen. The number of people required to process human health insurance issues, would be cost prohibitive for vets. Payment to physicians can take up to 6 months and when they arrive, the reimbursement is a fraction of the charges. With pet insurance the client pays the vet at time of service as usual and then gets reimbursed by the insurance company.

Finally, veterinarians only benefit from pet insurance by allowing clients to be able to pay for what is needed for the pet. THERE ARE NO KICK BACKS.

Related Posts

September is Pet Health Insurance Month across North America
Guest Post: Veterinary Perspective on Pet Insurance

Other posts by Dr Riggs

Dr_RiggsDr. Rex Riggs grew up in Wadsworth, Ohio, near Akron. Dr Riggs is co-owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is also on the board of the North Central Region of Canine Companions of Independence, a board member of The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Society and Small Animal Practitioner Advancement Board at The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Riggs lives in Lewis Center, OH with his wife Nancy, their dogs Maggie and Ossa, and cat Franklin. Outside of work, Dr. Riggs is an avid golfer and cyclist, and enjoys travel and photography.



September is Pet Health Insurance Month across North America

Wow, it's Pet Health Insurance Month in the US and Canada - spread the word! This month, we are going to talk about the benefits of pet insurance, what to look for in a policy and what you can expect from Embrace Pet Insurance.

In the meantime, do you have any questions you want answered on the topic of pet insurance?



Guest Post: a veterinary perspective of disaster preparedness

Do you know how your local authorities would help your pets in times of a disaster? Dr Riggs talks about the PETS Act and how you can take some minimal steps to be prepared should something happen in your area.


It seems we now live in a world of the ever present disasters. (I always wonder, though. if the world has really gotten worse or is it that now we have a million cable news channels, reporting everything, as it happens…..But I digress.) Today, there are currently 5,000 fire fighters fighting some 10 huge wildfires in California. The California fires have burned twice as much acres over last year and the Santa Anna winds, which annually, fan these fires and spreads them, have not hit this year.

I was in San Diego five years ago during such a fire. It started as a small brush fire and due to the Santa Ana winds, the fire jumped highways and caused a massive fire, large enough to actually turn the downtown sky a red color. Suddenly many people and their pets were misplaced from their homes.

Hurricane Katrina was a disaster not only in the natural sense of the word, with its devastation, but also in the way, it showed how ill prepared we were. The events of 9/11 have changed our world forever and we are all anxious about the next Boston marathon attack.

We know there will be more fires, more hurricanes, more flooding, earthquakes and unfortunately more acts of terror. We need to be prepared, not only for our well-being, but also our pets.

Before Katrina, many did not think about the safe evacuation and housing of victim’s pets. Katrina brought to light the strength of the human animal bond. Many people would refuse to evacuate without their pets, and chose to stay in their house and in danger’s way. Have you ever thought how devastating it would be to leave you pets in danger as you are rescued? I could not do it.

As a direct result of Katrina, the PETS act was established. The Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS)” was a bi-partisan initiative in the United States House of Representatives to require states seeking Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance to accommodate pets and service animals in their plans for evacuating residents facing disasters”. This act requires state and local authorities to include how they accommodate pets, along with service animals, in the event of a disaster. (Download PLAW-109publ308 for a copy of the act.)

Katrina left some 8,000 pets stranded, many of whom were subsequently rescued and taken to temporary shelters. Most were never claimed by their owners, and were transported to all corners of the country to be adopted to other families. These horrible circumstances shows the importance of the identification chips for all your pets. Even for those who are inside pets, in a natural disaster, they often become outside pets. These inexpensive microchips are implanted under the skin and may be your only chance to be reunited with your pet. So as the Boy Scouts always say…..”Be Prepared”.

In addition, make sure your animals are always up to date on vaccines because of the increase chance of disease transmission in disasters such as flooding and also in kennel situations with animals of unknown vaccination history. Get your animals micro chipped, it is often your only chance to be reunited with your pets.

Finally, contact the authorities in your area to learn what procedures are in place for you and you pets. Do it now while things are calm and no disasters are on the way.

Related Posts

August is Disaster Preparedness Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Podcast: Dr Patrick Mahaney on Pet Disaster Preparedness
Guest Post: a veterinary perspective of disaster preparedness

Other posts by Dr Riggs

Dr_RiggsDr. Rex Riggs grew up in Wadsworth, Ohio, near Akron. Dr Riggs is co-owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is also on the board of the North Central Region of Canine Companions of Independence, a board member of The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Society and Small Animal Practitioner Advancement Board at The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Riggs lives in Lewis Center, OH with his wife Nancy, their dogs Maggie and Ossa, and cat Franklin. Outside of work, Dr. Riggs is an avid golfer and cyclist, and enjoys travel and photography.



Podcast: Dr Patrick Mahaney on Pet Disaster Preparedness

Today’s topic is disaster preparedness for pets, something to think about as fires rage, hurricanes threaten, and earthquakes lurk.

Our monthly podcast starts with Dr Patrick Mahaney talking about disasters he has had to face in his practice followed by these questions:

  1. Adrienne: could you touch on some of the common disasters encountered in regional areas of the country and perhaps some uncommon ones that people may not think of or are aware of?
  2. Kate: I'm guessing we should have a plan in place in case of disaster for our pets... what would that plan look like?
  3. Adrienne (who has a volunteer search and rescue dog): could you outline the necessary items to be included in a disaster preparedness kit: 
    • What things you will need to care for your pet in the event of a disaster or if you
      would need to evacuate (floods, fires, hurricanes, etc.) 
    • What types of contact information and identification for the pet do you need in case
      you should become separated. 
    • Also what the length of time the kit should cover and how often it should be
      updated/changed?
  4. Katie: During Sandy, those who didn't evacuate were forced to leave their pets behind for days, some a week or more, until the barrier island reopened. While we all know having evacuated sooner could have avoided the issue, are there any suggestions on what to do in that event to
    help keep your pet safe until you can return?

 Click on the link below for the podcast.

 

Laura Bennett & Dr Patrick Mahaney disaster preparedness 2013

Links Mentioned:

Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster in Japan Reinforces Need for Global Pet Emergency Preparedness
Pet-Pac Survival Packs

Dr Mahaney also recommends the following items for your own pet first aid kit:

  1. Pet health information in waterproof container/bag 
  2. Vaccination (Rabies) status, list of medications, current photo, veterinarian/hospital, etc.
  3. Nylon leash attached to carabiner
  4. Surgical mask and clear eye shields- to protect your face and eyes
  5. Absorbent gauze pads and roll (can be used as tourniquet)
  6. Sterile, non-stick gauze pads
  7. Surgery/adhesive tape
  8. Bandage scissors (blunt ended) and scalpel blade
  9. Forceps (“tweezers”)-to remove pieces of foreign material (splinter, etc.), or insects (ticks, etc.) that may get lodged in the body 
  10. Tongue depressors
  11. Muzzle or cloth strip
  12. Rubber (latex) and thick leather gloves
  13. Blanket or sheet- mylar foil, cloth, etc
  14. Large and heavy-duty plastic bag
  15. Thermometer- digital, flexible, can be lubricated with antimicrobial ointment for rectal temperature determination
  16. Penlight or small flashlight- to look into the eyes to determine the pupillary light response (PLR) or looking into other cavities (mouth, etc.)
  17. Sterile water or saline/eye irrigating solution- for flushing out the eyes, nose, or a skin wound.
  18. Non-stinging antiseptic solution (like Chlorhexidine 2-4 % solution)
  19. Rubbing alcohol pads or liquid
  20. Antimicrobial ointment (bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin B for bacteria +/- miconazole for yeast)- for puncture wounds, cuts, and scraped
  21. Anti-histamine tablets and ointment (Diphenhydramine HCl= Benadryl 25mg tablet or ointment)- for suspected allergic reactions, such as environmental/seasonal allergies or bees stings
  22. EpiPen Jr (Epinephrine 0.15mg)- for severe allergic reactions, such as bee stings
  23. Corn syrup, honey, or other simple sugar liquid- for suspected hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  24. A pet carrier to contain the contents of the kit in an easily transportable format

Related Posts

August is Disaster Preparedness Month at Embrace Pet Insurance
Podcast: Dr Patrick Mahaney on Pet Disaster Preparedness

Other posts by Dr Patrick Mahaney


Dr Patrick MahaneyDr. 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 atVeterinary Cancer Group in Culver City, CA.

Dr Mahaney writes a veterinary column (Patrick's Blog) forwww.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 2013 through Havenhurst Books



August is Disaster Preparedness Month at Embrace Pet Insurance

There are some disasters you can prepare for such as hurricanes, where you may have days to get ready, forest fires where you might have a few hours to prepare, and tornadoes, that might afford 20 minutes or so of warning. And there are some that come totally unannounced such as earthquakes or a house fire. I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about all of this.

Either way, are you prepared to deal with a disaster? And just as important, is your pet prepared?

We're going to focus on how to get prepared and what you need in the event of a disaster. Let's hope we never have to use this information, but just like pet insurance, it will be there when you need it the most.

 





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