Insurance can help keep pets healthy
Question: What are the benefits of pet health insurance?
Answer: Like human health care, veterinary costs have risen dramatically over the years. A 2004 American Animal Hospital Association survey of more than 1,000 U.S. and Canada pet owners found that 26 percent spent between $250 to $499 annually on veterinarian care. Nineteen percent spent $1,000 or more.
The good news is that as veterinary medicine makes advances, there are more options and specialists to help your animals live their best and longest lives.
Insurance can mean the difference between life and death for your pet. It can also mean that you might not ever have to choose between your pet's health or a bill you can't pay.
Just like human health insurance, coverage, care and costs vary. But basically, pet insurance reimburses a percentage of medical bills for animals from any licensed veterinarian. An owner can expect to pay $100 to $300 per animal per year.
It is best to start a policy when pets are young and healthy, as pre-existing conditions are often not covered.
Q: What companies are recommended pet health insurers?
A: A quick Internet search found two reputable pet health insurers: VPI Pet Insurance (www.petinsurance.com) and ASPCA Pet Health Insurance (www.aspcapetinsurance.com).
When researching pet insurance companies, ask if the company has been around at least a decade -- long enough to have insured the lifetime health of one customer's pet. Also check whether the company receives veterinary recognition, and make sure you understand what you're paying for.
Generally only cats and dogs are covered by insurance, although VPI Pet Insurance also offers plans for birds and exotic pets.
VPI's monthly standard plan was $13.50 for a mixed-breed dog and $7.83 for a mixed-breed cat. Upgrading the standard plan and adding vaccination and routine care coverage are available, as are multipet discounts.
E-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
. Indicate "Pet Ohana" in the subject line. Or write "Pet Ohana," Hawaiian Humane Society, 2700 Waialae Ave., Honolulu 96826.