Our $1,300 mistake
Well, it appears I’ve come down with a bit of a cold. To be honest, I’m hardly surprised. Between the travel, poor eating, and stress of Cheese being in the ER, I knew it was a matter of time. As promised, I wanted to share our experience with Cheese because it was a huge learning moment for us. After we spent $1,300 at the ER, we knew we made a mistake not getting pet insurance for all our animals.
When I worked at a local veterinary office back in high school and college, pet insurance was just starting. Out of the hundreds of patients we saw, maybe two or three animals had it. It was always complicated and seemed to hardly be worth the headache of paperwork and little benefit. Flash forward 10 years and the industry has changed. While it’s estimated that only 1-2% of pet owners have pet insurance, I have a feeling that’s only going to grow.
Upon Roni & Cheese’s adoption, I did a brief read through of insurance information and decided it wasn’t for us. They’re indoor cats, young, healthy, and I figured we were in the clear for awhile. Oh my, how I was wrong. Outside of their annual check-ups, Roni & Cheese have been to the vet a combined four times. One of those being our most recent trip to the ER.
Chris and I got home from my brother’s wedding Sunday afternoon. While I was unpacking, Cheese started chewing on one of the hangers. Something he’s done numerous times before. I was right there and all of a sudden I heard the most awful scream. Poor Cheese had somehow got the hook part of the hanger stuck in his throat. Your guess is as good as mine with how he managed that one, but the 25 seconds it was stuck seemed to last forever. Luckily, Chris got it out quickly but the damage had been done.
He seemed okay but slowly became lethargic and uncomfortable. We knew something was off. After a few hours, we called MedVet who told us it would be best to bring him in. I assumed it would be a casual peek down his throat and we’d be on our way home with pain meds. Sadly, the X-Rays showed that air had escaped from his throat into his neck, meaning there was some sort of tear somewhere. It was at this point the vet gave us our options.
She suggested we leave Cheese in their care overnight so he could get fluids, pain meds, and be monitored in case his condition worsened. They wanted to keep an eye on the air pocket and make sure it wasn’t expanding. They’d have a critical care specialist look him over in the am, and if necessary perform surgery. This would cost anywhere from $1,000-$3,500. Option B was to take him home with us and monitor his breathing overnight. If his conditioned worsened, bring him back in and wait again for someone to see him. This would cost $500. Chris and I are extremely fortunate to be able to afford both options but it certainly wasn’t something anyone should have to consider.
A couple of weeks ago, my brother’s dog Diesel also faced an uncertain future and stayed almost a week in the ER. With enzyme levels off the charts and a liver in bad shape, it was a heartbreaking week. After a blood transfusion, he turned a corner and has since recovered. But not before racking up more than $10,000 in medical bills. Fortunately, my brother was smart enough to purchase pet insurance. He was actually the one who motivated us to get insurance for our girl Rawlings.
If I knew then what I know now, I would have signed the kitties up for insurance when we brought them home. We’ve since taken the time to sign them both up. Pet insurance is a lot less tricky than health insurance for humans. Plans differ by premiums (what you pay each month) and deductible (what you pay if something happens). Some plans have an unlimited payout while others have a cap. Most plans only cover up to a certain percentage of the bill, between 70-90% usually. Plans vary in cost depending on the age, species, and breed of the pet covered.
I used this chart to compare benefits and then requested a quote. I also used this reference from Reviews.com that gave a comprehensive overview of the best options. After looking at both of these sites and getting quotes, we signed up with HealthyPaws. It’s the best fit for us and it’s the same insurance company Rawlings is covered by.
I know pet insurance isn’t for everyone, but it’s worth considering. It’s a shame that money is a big factor in determining the outcome of a pet’s life. Veterinary care, especially emergency, can add up quickly. Cheese ended up staying overnight at the emergency clinic and has since recovered. I definitely learned the hard way when it comes to rolling the dice and hoping nothing happens. I’m counting my blessings that nothing worse happened and that we have our baby back home with us.
Do you have pet insurance? What’s your experience been like? Let me know in the comments below!
I’ve got two lovable girls for you!
Misty – I loved this little tan girl. She’s absolutely adorable and her smile is contagious. She and I bonded over our food motivation and she took the treats so gently from my hand. She’s got plenty of energy but knows basic commands and sits so pretty. She gets along with other dogs and is all around pretty perfect. To check out Misty’s full profile, click here!
Wally – D’oh ma gah. Wally man is a gentle, happy pup who knows how to turn on that puppy eyes charm. He was relinquished by his previous owners but that hasn’t stopped him from giving all the love. He is an absolute love bug and ready for his forever home. For more cute Wally pics and facts, click here.
You all know my passion for working with companies that give back! For the month of June, The Gentle Pit and I are partnering to support Chicago rescues! We will be featuring adorable pups that you can choose to support with your purchase! Win/win/win. I’m wearing their pink muscle LOVE tank and it’s seriously so comfy. It runs a little small so I ordered a medium. I’m also wearing my trusty Levi’s 501s that are actually mens that I bought and distressed myself. Shop the tee above and rest of the look below!
All photos: Margaret Rajic