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Pet Insurance: Under Cover-Age

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One of the most underutilized resources available today in veterinary medicine is pet insurance.  I find that less than 15% of my clients have insurance for their pets. Why do so few people invest in pet insurance? Because most people are unaware that pet insurance exists. Emergency and advanced medical care for your pet can easily climb into the thousands of dollars, and pet insurance can cover up to 90% of those bills.  Pet insurance is available through many different companies and can be easily tailored to your pet’s individual needs and your budget. 

Why Pet Insurance is Important

Veterinary medicine and our capabilities closely mirror human medicine, including specialty-trained veterinarians and highly specialized procedures. We have specialized veterinarians trained in advanced surgery, oncology, internal medicine, dermatology, ophthalmology, and cardiology; and that is just what’s available in Alaska. CT scans, MRIs, endoscopy, ultrasound, emergency stabilization, blood transfusions, chemotherapy, joint and spinal surgery are all available to your animals here in Palmer. While we hope your pet will never need these services, we are here if they do. However, having and maintaining all these capabilities is expensive, especially on an emergency basis. As a result, insurance can literally mean the difference between life and death for your pet. 

When an Emergency Fund Isn’t Enough

I started an emergency fund for my pets after I started working in emergency medicine, but unfortunately, the amount needed for a solid safety net continues to rise, and I have continued to accumulate animals. Fortunately, pet insurance has become more widely available and comprehensive and helps me ensure my critters are safe. I still maintain an emergency fund for my animals and encourage you to do the same. However, $30,000 worth of coverage for each of my animals is easier to hold through an insurance policy. Insurance simply provides the capability to make medical decisions based on what is best for your animal rather than what you can afford. 

You have insurance for your home, car, family, and yourself; you can also extend that safety net to your fur family. For many of a veterinarian’s patients, cost impacts the level of care and sometimes prevents it. We watch families struggle with love for their pet, finances, and guilt. It’s a relief for all of us when insurance alleviates the burden of cost concerns. The companies I have the most experience with and would recommend you research for your furry friends are Embrace, Trupanion, Healthy Paws, Pets Best, and Nationwide. All of these companies make it easy to get a quote online for your pet. You can modify the policy to suit your needs, including reimbursement percentage, deductible, and what you want covered. 

Going the Extra Mile

Some of these companies like Trupanion will pay certain clinics directly so you don’t have to float the bill until the reimbursement comes. Several of these also offer options for rehabilitation therapy and preventative care. Companies like Pets Best will even cover portions of pre-existing conditions, which is unusual. Generally, if you wait until after the diagnosis is made it’s too late, especially in the case of emergencies. USAA even contracts pet insurance for our military and veterans at a discounted rate through Embrace. 

Orthopedic surgery, intestinal blockage, cancer diagnostics and treatment, dog fight wounds — all of these can be covered. But if you wait until the emergency hits, it’s too late. Even if it seems like something minor, insurance companies have a delay before the policy kicks in. How long can your pet wait? If your lab has been limping for 2-3 days and you come to the vet for meds, what are you going to do when they diagnose a torn cruciate (ACL)? It’s too late to get coverage for the thousands in surgery that your dog now needs.

Do Your Research

I pay approximately $20-40 per month for my dogs’ insurance. I checked several providers before I made my choice and haven’t been harassed with junk mail once. In this particular case, I actually do recommend googling for more information. You can also ask your vet if they have experience with any of the companies and what they think. 

There is no animal I wouldn’t recommend insurance for. While you are busting out your nets for the salmon run, take a few minutes to look into a safety net for your pet. 

Tier 1 Veterinary Medical Center in Palmer is Alaska’s only comprehensive animal hospital. We are available for emergencies, walk-ins, and by appointment. With CT, MRI, and Ultrasound available on-site, our facility provides advanced treatment options for your pet. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Dr. Sean McPeck

A 2010 Graduate of Colorado State College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Dr. Sean McPeck developed his leadership as a Sniper Team Leader and Veterinarian with the US Army Special Operations, 75th Ranger Regiment.

Dr. McPeck has multiple combat deployments, totaling almost 2 years in combat theaters of operation.

He is the recipient of the Combat Action Badge, and is Ranger, Sniper, and Airborne qualified. While serving as an officer in Special Operations, Dr. McPeck was repeatedly recognized for his Honor, Integrity, Courage and Selfless Service in the name of the United States. He was recognized with not one, but two, Meritorious Service Medals.

Under his leadership, Dr. McPeck worked with Working Dog handlers, and canine units, to detain and seize enemy combatants. The canines that Dr. McPeck worked with are credited with savings thousands of United States soldiers deployed in combat areas.

Dr. McPeck authored The RCAP, Ranger Canine Athletic Program, which was the 1st comprehensive Military canine conditioning program.

His specific training and certification classes for Dog handlers to be proficient in Canine Tactical- Combat Casualty Care, and knowledge of current medical equipment and procedures, which led to the successful life saving interventions by handlers in real world operations.

Dr. SaraRose McPeck graduated from Mississippi State College of Veterinary Medicine in 2010. A Massachusetts native who attended Becker College for her undergrad, Dr. McPeck has lived and worked around the country and even the world. She served four years in the United States Army as a Veterinary Officer, during which she was stationed in Fort Benning, Georgia, and completed a 12-month tour in Afghanistan.

Her time serving in the Army provided her the experience as the primary veterinarian for over 350 Military Working Dogs, in which she provided all emergency, trauma, surgical, critical, and primary care. In addition to caring for animals, she trained, mentored, and led six Non-Commissioned Officers and twelve junior enlisted Soldiers, giving her not only impressive veterinary experience but also exceptional interpersonal and leadership skills.

As a Veterinary Corp Officer, she received a variety of awards, including a Bronze Star, a NATO Medal, a GWOT Medal, two Army Accommodation Medals, among many others. She gained experiences in which she exemplified impressive leadership skills and the ability to adapt to both clinical and combat support situations. Her years of experience serving our country and in veterinary medicine have equipped her with the knowledge and skills to provide exceptional care to our patients.