Thursday, July 3, 2008

to insure or not to insure?

This conversation went down on Saturday.

Vet: So Dominick had a bit of a respiratory infection, right?

Me: Yes.

Vet: And that's all cleared up now with the antibiotics?

Me: Yes, he's fine.

Vet: And now he has a Hot Spot?

Me: Yeah, it's on the inside of his arm. He's hairless from his elbow to his shoulder. He licks it all the time.

Vet: Any changes at home recently? Any visitors? New carpet?

Me: No, but Nicky's had this before. This bald spot. It happened when we went away for the weekend to Colorado and when we came back he was really clingy and he had this bald spot and I did some research online and found that maybe he had separation anxiety so we got him a little sister.

Nicky: Meow?

Vet (as she picks up Nicky and places him on the examination table): Awww...and they get along well?

Jesse and Me: haha

Me: Ummm...well, for the most part.

Vet (smiles while checking out Nicky): Just like brother and sister, huh?

Nicky jumps off table and continues to explore the room.

Me: Yeah.

Vet: Well, it could be parasites, but since he's an indoor kitty that's not very likely especially if the other kitty doesn't have anything. Or he could have an allergy or maybe a bite that has just gotten out of control. Or maybe he's just anxious and we can treat him for that like with Prozac or something.

Nicky: Meoooow!

After deciding on a course of action, the vet left and then came back.

Vet (placing Nicky on the examination table): Good kitty.

Vet then kisses Nicky on the forehead.

Vet: So there's two medications. This one is for the allergy. And this one is a topical antibiotic. Each one should be given twice daily.

Nicky (annoyed): Meow! (pause) Meow?

Oh lordy. I love my kitties as if they were my own children. But I have now seen more of the vet than I have seen my doctor this whole year.

Nicky has been twice. We took him in to get checked soon after we adopted him. He was sniffly and sneezy. Turns out he had a cold which is common for shelter kitties. Luckily for kitties, they have medication for that. That visit plus the medicine cost us almost $150.

And then we adopted Gracie. A few weeks ago, Gracie had some really bad diarrhea. I will spare you the horrible details. After we adopted her, we didn't really feel the need to get her checked out seeing as she had just had her spay surgery and I'm sure all sorts of preventative work done before that by the rescue. But the diarrhea was too much to bear so we took her in. Her full check up, second deworming, medication and stool sample analysis cost us nearly $300.
does this lei look good on me?
Gracie, post diarrhea

And just last week we took Nicky in because he was going bald on his leg. I thought maybe Gracie had scratched him during one of their rough and tumble play fights and Nicky just kept licking it (actually a small part of me assumed it was anxiety of some sort). So his recent visit and two medications cost us about $150.
i am kitty, see me roar!
Nicky, during healthier times

I have spent $600 on vet costs alone.

I'm not complaining. I take the kitties to the vet for selfish reasons. Sure I want them to get better. But I worry about them so much that I just HAVE to take them to the vet for my own peace of mind. Granted, I've had valid reasons for all those visits. But the costs are a little scary.

Changing vets is not an option. I love the vets at Ballston Animal Hospital. They ALWAYS call and follow up with us after visits. The kitties get more personal attention from the staff at the hospital than I do from my doctor and my doctor is routinely voted a top doc in Washingtonian magazine.

So, I'm wondering if anyone out there has pet insurance. Yeah, I've started to look into it. And I've heard mixed reviews. Some people say it's great if you get the right one. Others say that you're better off just saving a little bit of money each month.

Anyone out there with pet health insurance that can weigh in? Or maybe you've thought about it and changed your mind? I would love your input.


Jilian said...

We've thought and talked about it - but decided it wasn't really worth it. I forget the details of what they actually covered - but I think it was at least $25/month. Maybe more. So that's $300/year x 2 pups. $600. And I'm sure if we did take them in we'd still have to pay copays and some medication costs anyways. So I'll just keep that $600 in my pocket :)

The chances of something drastic happening are slim. So we'll just rely on our emergency fund to cover it if something does come up.

(all this thought took place after adopting crazy hermaphrodite Cash who has penis issues and was maybe going to need an amputation - which didn't happen - or other penis related surgery in his future)

Emily said...

I don't think they cover preexisting medical conditions (much like insurance for humans). So if the bald patch on your kitty's leg turned out to be some chronic condition, they wouldn't cover it because you've already been to the vet and it's documented on the books. My dog had a parasite for like the first year of her life, and we spent well over $1,000 in vet bills, stool analysis, specialists, etc. We looked into pet insurance, but figured out that even if we got it, they wouldn't cover costs related to the parasite because it would have been considered a "preexisting condition." Sucky. So we opted not to do it in the end.

lizzie said...

jilian--ah yes, i remember seeing the pics of cash. such a cute puppy, despite his "quirks". :) thank you for sharing your experience with me.

i'm such a worrywart with my kitties that i'm afraid that i'll be close friends with all of the vets at ballston animal hospital by the end of the year. $50 a month seems manageable, especially in the event of a medical emergency. gracie is always running into walls at full speed. who knows what she's capable of hurting?

Emily--i'm hoping that the bald spot on nicky is just some kind of allergy or bite gone bad. we have a follow up with the vet in two weeks to see if we need to take further action. i'm keeping my fingers crossed that his fur will have grown back by then.

i wonder if having insurance would've saved you money on your puppy had you purchased the insurance before the puppy got the parasite?

thanks for sharing your input!

Wendy said...

I highly recommend it - VPI and ASPCA both have great plans. Personally I like the ASPCA plan better plus you get to choose your vet.

Keep in mind its not like regular human health insurance. You get reimbursed from them, the vet signs the paperwork and gives it to you to send in.

I think its a good idea - because you never know and while their young its good to get before any preexisting conditions start.

I can talk to you more about this at length when I get back in town.