The Real Reason for Pet Insurance

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If you read our blog, you know that our sweet Maggie May was recently diagnosed with osteosarcoma (OSA), bone cancer, in her left front leg. OSA is an aggressive, fast-growing cancer that is typically treated through amputation and chemotherapy or palliative radiation. Our vet offered us a new treatment called Stereotactic Radiosurgery, a treatment that is considered curative – meant to kill the cancer rather than just slow it’s growth or help the pain.
It’s been performed on humans for years, has very high success rates and we opted to go that route for treating Maggie.
To say this journey is expensive is putting it mildly. Just to get to a diagnosis, Maggie went through:maggieatbigbear

  • 3 separate sets of xrays
  • Blood work
  • 2 ultrasounds
  • Bone aspirate

The Stereotactic RadioSurgery (SRS) treatment includes:

  • CT scan
  • 3 radiation treatments
  • IV drip of Palmidronate (a bone stenghtener)

And then, on top of all that is her medication, pain killers and possibly a round of chemptherapy.
All in, including the office visits, the treatment and her medications, the cost is going to be over $20,000. Before you choke on your coffee, let me tell you that we have pet insurance and without it, this expense would be hard to deal with. And who wants to make health choices for ourselves, or for our pets based on cost? Not me.
We’ve had Healthy Paws Pet Insurance for both Jack and Maggie since shortly after we adopted them. Insurance for senior pets is not cheap and there are things that are not covered because they were ‘pre-existing’. For instance, all of Jack’s IBD problems aren’t covered because he was treated for it before we got the insurance, so follow-up treatments aren’t covered. That sucks, but it’s the same for humans.
But Maggie’s OSA is covered – 90% of it is covered. That makes getting the best care available for her is possible without the financial distress.
The Healthy Paws team has been wonderful to us. Before we made our decision, I wanted to make sure they covered SRS, so I called to confirm. The first thing they did was extend their sympathies for Maggie and then confirmed they covered it. They even went out of their way to contact me after my initial call to offer to pay our vet directly rather then through the normal reimbursement process. I have received an outpouring of caring and sympathy from each representative I’ve talked to. They even contacted me last week just to ask how Maggie’s treatment was going and how she was feeling. I never get that treatment when I call my own insurance provider for a human health issue!
This is the reason to have Pet Insurance. Yes, I pay a lot each month – $70 each. Yes, I have a $250 deductible which basically covers their annual senior wellness check. But it is this scenario with Maggie when you need it, a catastrophic and expensive illness. Even with all the money we have paid in, Healthy Paws is going to lose money on us – they know it, but they aren’t nickel and diming us – they are going to cover everything, even the diagnostic tests.
I can’t say enough about them and how great they’ve been. If you’ve been thinking about pet insurance, or plan on getting pet insurance someday, get it, and get it sooner rather than later. Our choice of Healthy Paws was a great one, I’m so thankful we have their support and we absolutely recommend them to family & friends. Thanks to them, our Maggie has a good chance of being with us for many more months and maybe years.
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  1. I’m so sorry about Maggie’s cancer, but that’s awesome that the pet insurance will pay for almost all of it!
    Lauren Miller (ZoePhee) recently posted…Happy Face! B&W SundayMy Profile

  2. I’m so glad Healthy Paws walks this way with you… a big hug and a Thank You from me too. It’s important to have an insurance what covers a part of the bills…. we have one with a high deductible, but I know I’m prepared for the worst case.
    I cross my paws for Maggie May and I send a big hug and POTP….
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog MISCHIEF MOANDAYMy Profile

  3. All three of us have insurance as well, just for accidents, illness, and cancer. Some say it would be wiser to just put money aside, but really if after a couple years you need $20K, most likely you haven’t got it put away. We are big fans of insurance for instances like what you are going through right now. Get it early before pre existing conditions come up too. Maggie is so lucky to be able to get the best care possible!
    Emma recently posted…Dog Quotes At My HouseMy Profile

    • Setting aside is good – if you have the discipline to keep it ‘aside’, but who would set aside this much? Not me.
      mkob recently posted…The Real Reason for Pet InsuranceMy Profile

      • Exactly my argument when people tell me not to have insurance.
        Emma recently posted…Dog Quotes At My HouseMy Profile

  4. It is a good thing that you have that insurance. It sure helps when large expanses come along.
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Freighter’s Last Hunt Test Of The SeasonMy Profile

  5. Having insurance is the way to go in my humble opinion. We have Pets Best Insurance for both pups with a yearly deductible of $200 per dog, and our monthly cost is a little over $70 (includes both). They covered 90% of our girl Missy’s cancer treatment last year and earlier this year ($6.200 is what they covered), but it was nowhere near expensive as Maggie’s treatment. $20.000…yikes!!!

    As Emma said in her comment above, it’s one thing to put aside money on a monthly basis, but unless it’s $1.000 or more, it’s highly unlikely you’ll have the sum of $20.000 readily available in your pet’s savings account.

    We continue to wish Maggie a very successful treatment!!
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Four top reasons why dogs eat grass!My Profile

  6. I think all the time about getting insurance on these two. Roxy is 10 and does have a pre existing back issue, but other than that they are fine. We don’t even have insurance though, so it’s a tough call.
    Mary recently posted…Grizzly and Wolf Discovery CenterMy Profile

    • It is tough – especially when they are seniors – Jack & Maggie were both 8 when we got them. But I will ALWAYS have it now because you never know.
      mkob recently posted…The Real Reason for Pet InsuranceMy Profile

  7. I’ve read so many posts on one side or the other of whether to get insurance for pets, but the staggering costs you could have incurred here are really making me second guess my decision to just have an emergency fund. Thanks for the thoughtful post, I have some thinking of my own to do.

    • Emergency funds are good for minor things, but as medical advancements become available to our canine pals, the costs of treatment go up. Even if we had gone with just the palliative radiation for Maggie, it probably would have run $6-7K.
      mkob recently posted…The Real Reason for Pet InsuranceMy Profile

  8. That’s awesome that Healthy Paws is covering almost all of the expenses. I really wish I would have purchased pet insurance when Haley was younger. It sounds like there are some great companies out there now and I’m definitely planning on getting insurance with our next dog.

    I’m thrilled Maggie has the opportunity to get this treatment and I’m hoping for great results from her SRS.
    Elaine recently posted…Check Your Petiquette Quiz! – How’s Your Dog Etiquette?My Profile

  9. Thanks for sharing that! I’m glad Maggie seems to be doing well and your insurance is covering the bulk of her expenses. I can’t imagine the worry of that on top of everything else.
    Jodi recently posted…Faithfully Yours…The TrailerMy Profile

  10. Hooray that is great news!!
    DZ Dogs recently posted…Melvin’s Project JoyMy Profile

  11. I’m so glad Maggie has been doing well with her treatment, and that you have this insurance to help you!
    I’ve been kicking myself for letting Luke’s free insurance, that we got when we adopted him, run out, ever since his luxating patella diagnosis. Now if he needs surgery, we’ll be paying for it, even if we decided to get insurance at this point.
    I certainly like the sounds of the company you are using.
    Jan K recently posted…Strict Schedule & Other MischiefMy Profile

    • Yeah, pre-existing issues aren’t covered – although it’s worth asking about – maybe with a higher premium or something…
      mkob recently posted…The Real Reason for Pet InsuranceMy Profile

  12. I am glad to see that your insurance is covering so much of the cost. I have not heard of them and need to make a decision for Bentley’s coverage.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…BFTB NETWoof News August 24 2015My Profile

    • I highly recommend them. The coverage is mostly the same across them, some have lower deductible or lower % coverage. I was most impressed with their responsiveness to us and their thoughtful concern about Maggie.
      mkob recently posted…The Real Reason for Pet InsuranceMy Profile

  13. That’s great that you have coverage for her treatments. We didn’t have pet insurance when we had Abby. We figured she was young… what could happen? (Ugh.) We definitely have it now with Rita!
    Jackie Bouchard recently posted…Dog Normal or DOG CRAZY? Meg Donohue #Book #Giveaway!My Profile

  14. Yep, that’s the reason to have insurance.
    Jana Rade recently posted…Dogs, Porcupines, Wasps and LearningMy Profile

  15. I definitely think insurance is huge!!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…My Siberian Husky Fishing Partner #DogsInBoatsMy Profile

  16. I have Healthy Paws on both my dogs but I didn’t have it on my Daisy. She had thyroid cancer and over a 3 year period I spent in the vincity of $30,000 for her treatment. One of the first things I did when I got Piper was to research the various options and choose Healthy Paws Insurance.
    I ran the numbers and the monthly premiums over his expected lifetime of 15 years ( factoring in yearly premium increases) will be less then the first month of Daisy’s treatment cost me.

  17. Pet insurance is a valuable tool that our fur-kids deserve for good health, good treatment when things go sideways and allow us bipeds to give them exactly what they need. Good for you! Here’s hoping the treatments work wonders for your Maggie girl. <3
    Monika recently posted…Tale of the TailMy Profile

  18. I can’t tell you how happy I am that Maggie is doing so well since her SRS and palliative radiation treatments! I pray she continues to heal and enjoy life for many more YEARS!

    $20,000?? Yikes – as Barbara Rivers said – is right!!! Your post has hit home, hard. I REALLY need to check out Healthy Paws for Shadow. We never expected to lose Callie to lymphoma – she had always been such a healthy pup – and we really couldn’t afford the monthly premiums. But now while she’s still healthy, I am definitely going to check out Healthy Paws for Shadow! We already have insurance for Ducky — which thankfully paid about 80% of her IBD treatment expenses — and you can bet I’m going to keep paying those premiums!

    Thank you for this post, Kate!! I might need to get Sam to read it to convince him that the premiums for insurance for Shadow will be well worth our peace of mind.
    Callie, Shadow, and Ducky\’s Mom recently posted…My Heart Is Broken My Profile

  19. That is great that you have insurance and get to use it. Thank you for sharing this company with us. When you need it it sounds like it pays off.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…MK And Puppies Meet~Monday MischiefMy Profile

  20. I believe pet insurance is extremely important because pet insurance isn’t just for vets bills, as an owner you are legally liable for your dog’s behaviour. If it ran into the road and caused a car accident, the driver could sue you for the damage caused. Third party liability cover is usually also included in pet insurance cover.
    Prince James recently posted…Four Steps to a Healthy Adult DogMy Profile

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