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PET CARE

I Need Help With Vet Bills: Here’s What Pet Insurance Can Do

Three Minutes Aug 19, 2022

Preparing for accidents, illnesses, and injuries is the best way to ensure you’ll be able to care for your pet. Pet insurance and proper planning can help your family avoid debt while taking the best care of your furry family members.

Thanks to advances in veterinary technology and new treatment options, our pets live longer, more active lives — but advances in medicine come with a hefty price tag: Your pet’s health care costs now rival human health care costs.

A national pet owners survey organized by LendEDU found that 45% of American pet owners spend at least the same amount of money on healthcare for their pets as they do for themselves.³ Yet, nearly 60 percent of Americans say they cannot afford emergency vet care.⁴

How Expensive Is Owning a Pet?

Regular vet visit cost

Veterinary costs vary across the country. Folks who live in major cities, such as Los Angeles or New York City, should expect to pay their veterinarians significantly more than their suburban counterparts. Keep in mind that vets expect their payment at the time of service, so talk to friends, family, or other people in your area to find a low-cost vet you can afford. Many low-cost vet clinics often provide essential services, such as vaccinations and wellness checks. Without properly shopping around, you could find yourself forking over several hundred dollars that you may not have planned for.

Common expenses

Pet ownership can get very expensive, especially when you first bring your cat or dog home. The cost of owning a dog is close to $3,300 in the first year; cat ownership can easily reach $2,000.⁵ These figures account for routine vet visits, vaccinations, preventative medical expenses, pet supplies, food, toys, and licensing fees. They do not include emergency treatment for unexpected illness or injury.

Common Expenses in the First Year

Budget Items

Cats

Dogs

Annual Visits & Vaccines

$160

$225

Boarding or Sitting

$30

$30

Carrier

$50

$40

Collars, Leashes, Harnesses

$15

$60

Dental

$300

$500

Food

$225

$300

Health Insurance

$348

$516

Grooming Tools

$20

$40

Litter and Litter Box

$170

N/A

Microchipping

$20

$20

Pet Supplies (Grooming, Toys, etc.)

$28

$65

Preventative Medicine

$140

$185

Total

$1,316

$2,451

Source: ASPCA⁴

For example, if your dog needs dental care or extractions it can cost you hundreds of dollars. If your pet is diagnosed with a chronic condition that requires ongoing treatment, you could be looking at tens of thousands of dollars.5 Considering the annual costs, planning ahead for your pet’s life makes sense.

Senior pet care often means health issues

Even if your pet is healthy and energetic now, this won’t last forever. Advances in veterinary care have made it so our furry friends live longer lives, but that brings a whole new set of challenges for pets, vets, and families. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), cats and small dogs are considered senior at 7 years old; large dog breeds tend to age faster than smaller dogs so keep your pet’s breed in mind.⁶ Older pets face many of the same issues as older humans, like:

  • Arthritis
  • Vision and hearing loss
  • Confusion and other cognitive difficulties
  • Heart and liver disease
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes

Emergency vet visits

Emergencies happen but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan for them. Some common reasons pets end up in the emergency vet include neurological problems, seizures, weakness or collapse, and difficulty breathing.7 For dogs, gastrointestinal distress is the top reason cited for going to the emergency vet.8,⁹ GI symptoms — like vomiting and diarrhea — can signal several illnesses, and therefore vets often need to run tests before beginning treatment. Even common gastrointestinal issues, such as stomach bloating and pancreatitis, can easily cost a pet parent up to $8,000 after all tests are finished.⁹

Pet parents also frequently find themselves in the emergency clinic because of ingestion of a toxin or foreign object. Frequently ingested toxins include antifreeze, chocolate, human medications, and rat poison, so it’s important to keep these items away from your dog; otherwise, you may find yourself spending up to $4,000.⁹

What Does Pet Insurance Cover?

Pet insurance is worth investing in when you consider how expensive routine and emergency vet care can get. Monthly premiums vary based on your location, pet, selected deductible, and reimbursement rate so there are rates that can fit into your budget.

MetLife’s1 plans may cover:

  • Accidents
  • Illnesses
  • Hospitalizations
  • Surgeries
  • Exam Fees
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Medications
  • Emergency care
  • Euthanisa
  • Alternative therapies, including acupuncture and chiropractic
  • Lost pet advertising

If you have a breed that is prone to a certain condition or injury, read the terms of your policy carefully so you know if your pet’s condition will be covered, and what the waiting period for coverage is. MetLife offers an optional wellness care package that may cover routine care, like annual visits.¹,²

Benefits of pet health insurance

The benefits of pet insurance go beyond money. Consider the fact that you can choose treatment for your pet’s illness or injury based on the best medical options available rather than your finances. You won’t have to empty your savings account; rather, you can decide which payment option best fits your family knowing it will be reimbursed. You can use whatever veterinarian you choose.  Pet insurance companies don’t require you to choose from a “network” of providers like human health insurance companies. You can keep your vet or find a better one.

Let MetLife1 Help You Lower Your Vet Bills

Bringing pets into our lives brings us joy. Their companionship is invaluable but when our pets get ill or injured, the bills for their medical care can take a large bite out of our budget.  Planning ahead for an unforeseen pet emergency is one way to protect your furry friend and your finances from taking a hit by investing in a pet insurance policy today.

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1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.

3 “20 Insightful Pet Spending Statistics: Americans are Spending More on Pets Than Ever,” Fortunly

⁴ “Access to Veterinary Care: Barriers, Current Practices, and Public Policy,” Access to Veterinary Care Coalition, pg. 17

⁵ “Cutting Pet Care Costs,” ASPCA

⁶ “Senior pet care FAQ,” American Veterinary Medical Association

7 How much does an emergency vet cost?,”  PetsRadar

Introduction to Digestive Disorders of Dogs,” Merck Veterinary Manual

⁹ “Pet Emergency Statistics and Veterinary Costs,” PreventiveVet

 

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