I love my dogs more than any reasonable person should, and they are getting older, so it dawned on me recently that I should probably investigate the option of pet health insurance. I know that my vet bills are only going to get higher as my babies get older. I want to be a responsible pet parent and take good care of my best friends, so I set out on a mission to compare pet health insurances.
Of course, one of my biggest concerns was cost. I am a starving writer after all, so I can’t afford Hollywood-style pet healthcare. But is there even such a thing as cheap pet health insurance? If there is, I couldn’t find it.
I was excited about the AKC plan, when I saw the quote “$18 per month,” but then I learned that this level of coverage only covers accidents, not illnesses or preventive care. The best that AKC offers is the Wellness Plus Plan for more than $100 a month, with a $125 deductible. And to start the plan, I had to pay for two months up front. And of course, just like with people, this pet insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions, and even though my dogs have none that I know of, this clause just irked me. The plan also does not cover inherited conditions. By this point, I tired of reading the fine print and moved on with my comparison shopping.
With ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, I found another $100 deductible. I also learned that I would have to pay for all veterinary care up front and then file a claim and wait to be reimbursed. Once again, the low monthly cost of $11 is deceiving because it only covers accidents. If I wanted full coverage for my pets, I was looking at $85 a month. But, I was impressed that ASPCA offers a 10% discount for multiple pets. I felt like I was getting warmer.
So I went to the big guns: VPI Pet Insurance. I could choose from a $100, $250, or $500 deductible for a $30, $26, or $22 monthly fee, respectively. But don’t let the numbers fool you. That only covers major medical events. For routine care coverage, you need to add either $22 or $12 per month to your pet health insurance bill. If you add another dog, you save a whopping 5%. (Please note subtle irony in the word whopping.)
Then I stumbled onto Animal Health Alliance, an alternative to traditional pet insurance. Instead of paying my bills at time of service and waiting for reimbursement, with membership to Animal Health Alliance, I would simply receive an upfront 25% discount off all my bills. The magic words for me were: no deductibles. Animal Health Alliance membership also covers preexisting conditions and hereditary conditions, so I don’t have to fight against my bloodhound’s family tree. And a membership with Animal Health Alliance covers more than just accidents: illnesses, diseases, infections, cancers, wellness checks, spaying/neutering, and vaccinations. And how much does all this cost? $99.95 a year. Multi-pet family membership costs an additional $69.95 a year. So, I can cover both dogs for about $14 a month — that’s $7 each, which made me laugh aloud. It seemed like a no-brainer to me.
So, what’s the downside? Nothing’s that easy, right? The catch is that I have to use one of their network veterinarians. But so what? I’m simply going to ask our veterinarian to join their network. It won’t cost her anything, except for my discount, but I know that she’ll do it — she’s always willing to help animals.
So, my search for affordable pet health insurance ended with no pet insurance at all. Yet I feel comfortable with my findings. By going with Animal Health Alliance, I avoid the chance of my dogs being excluded for some unforeseen circumstances. My dogs will never be too old, too ill, or too poorly bred for healthcare. Animal Health Alliance uses the motto: No Pet Left Behind. I like it. I don’t want my dogs left behind. I want them right here with me. For as long as possible.