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Pet Insurance: Good or Bad for the Veterinary Profession?

By: The Irreverent Veterinarian

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The Irreverent Vet Speaks Out - Is Pet insurance – is it a good thing or a bad thing?

Pet insurance – is it a good thing or a bad thing? This is an interesting topic.

I believe pet insurance is a good thing for pet owners at this time. And I say "at this time" because that may not always be the case. I don't have a crystal ball to see into the future, so it's safe to say I can't predict how the pet insurance industry may change in the future.

Before I go any further, let me introduce myself for those of you that don't know me. I'm the Irreverent Veterinarian. I speak my mind and give you my honest opinion. I won't sweet-talk you or sugarcoat the truth. I tell it like it is – to you, the drug companies, pet insurance companies, the pet product manufacturers, professional breeders and pet owners. Some might say that I'm truthful to a fault. Some of the pet owners, drug companies, pet product manufacturers and breeders who read my columns get really angry. It is hard hearing the truth.
So back to the topic of "insurance".

In many ways – human health insurance companies have nearly ruined human medicine. The question is – will pet insurance change the practice of veterinary medicine?

I know several physicians that hate their jobs – and it has everything to do with HMO's and insurance companies. And many people who have health insurance agree that it is less than ideal. Insurance companies have gone as far as dictating the care a patient receives for a given condition. This has caused frustration amongst human medical staff and reduced quality of care (in the opinons of many). Instead of doing what is BEST – physicians find themselves doing what is covered. Instead of taking their time with a patient – the insurance coverage per exam is so low – they are forced to see many patients in an hour.

So there are really two questions.

First - is insurance good for pets and vets? At this time, I believe that pet insurance is a good thing and that this will continue to be the case, at least for the next several years. So if you have pet insurance, or if you're thinking about getting pet insurance – don't worry. There is another article that covers this topic. Go to: The Irreverent Vet Speaks Out on Pet Insurance.

Second – is insurance good for the veterinary profession. This is what I'm not sure about.

Every February there is a large veterinary continuing education meeting in Las Vegas called the Western Veterinary Conference. It is a very good and big meeting that veterinarians and veterinary support staff attend to learn what's new in veterinary medicine and practice management.

At the last meeting, there was an open forum and discussion about insurance and that discussion led to speculation about what pet insurance could do to the profession of veterinary medicine.

Many old school veterinarians have been VERY reluctant to sign up with insurance – as they have seen the bad changes that has occurred in human medicine.

So the real question is – is there a chance that the veterinary profession could one day find themselves under the control of insurance companies as human physicians are now? There is. But it is not even close – years and years away as far as we can tell.

This is a concern amongst veterinarians. But right now this is definitely not the case. Insurance companies do not currently dictate how veterinary cases are managed.

My Final Thoughts on Pet Insurance

Nobody knows what the future will hold, but the pet insurance industry, as it exists today, is a good thing. It gives pet owners the ability to provide the veterinary care their pets needs. And many pet insurance companies allow the pet to be treated by any veterinarian their owners choose. There is no approved "network". So you can continue to see your current vet and your pet insurance will help pay for your pet's treatment. In many cases, pet insurance even covers well care visits and vaccinations to help keep your pets healthy.

Disclaimer

The Irreverent Vet is a columnist that regularly contributes to PetPlace.com. The goal is to add a balanced and alternative view of some controversial pet issues. As happens with all of us, veterinarians can't always say what they really think without offending some clients. This commentary allows vets to say what they think and give you, the pet owner, the opportunity to consider another point of view. All opinions are those of the Irreverent Vet and not the views of PetPlace.com and are not endorsed by PetPlace.com.

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