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Pet Medical Insurance

Questions to Ask Before You Buy a Pet Health Insurance Plan
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What services does pet health insurance cover?

Basic plans offer reimbursement for accident or illness expenses only. But there are plans that cover such routine needs as vaccinations. Coverage on some plans may include dental care, flea prevention, prescription medicines, and common medical screening tests, such as blood work, fecal examination, and urinalysis.

With all plans, there can be caps or limitations on coverage. For instance, a company may pay only up to a certain amount per incident of illness or per accident.

Sometimes, pre-existing conditions are excluded. "Some of the higher-quality programs will waive pre-existing," Sullivan says. Or a plan may not exclude a common pre-existing condition that requires fairly inexpensive treatments, she adds. Sullivan suggests that before you get a plan, you should ask about coverage for pre-existing conditions.

How much does pet health insurance cost?

Costs vary. Typically the fees are paid monthly and there may also be an annual fee.

Online quotes are easily accessible. For instance, an ASPCA basic plan for a one-year-old mixed Beagle puppy living in Los Angeles would cost $8.99 a month with an annual issuance fee of $10.50. It's a level 1 plan, which is basic accident coverage. Boosting coverage to accident and illness would increase the premium to $26.64 a month. A plan that adds wellness care would be $43.23 a month. The premiere plan, with the most extensive coverage, is $72.01 per month.

John Tait, DVM, president of the American Animal Hospital Association, says it’s important to ask if the premium changes as the pet ages. “Most,” he says, “are flat premiums that don’t change as the pet ages."

How much does pet health insurance pay?

Pet health insurance plans range from basic to deluxe, and the coverage varies from plan to plan. Typically, pet insurance plans are set up with a deductible that ranges from $100 to much higher. Then, Sullivan says, much like the human "fee-for-service" or indemnity model, the plans provide an 80% reimbursement for covered expenses.

Plans are likely not to pay for "cosmetic" procedures, Klingborg says. For instance, ear crops, often performed on show dogs, won't likely be covered unless they are medically necessary.

Plans offered online often include a schedule of coverages.

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