Health Care Reform – For Our Pets?


California’s Democratic state Assemblyman Dave Jones recently introduced a health care reform bill. Nothing surprising about that, right? Health care reform is all the rage these days. But this bill targets the insurers who sell policies that cover our furry friends.

According to The North American Pet Health Insurance Association, only about one million pets are insured – a small fraction of the 171 million pets in the U.S. Pet insurance, not unlike our own health insurance, can be incredibly confusing, and every company’s policies are different. The bill hopes to rectify the more confusing aspects of purchasing pet insurance.

A couple of the bill’s highlights:

  • Pet insurance would become a distinct insurance coverage area (instead of its current miscellaneous classification), which means consumers could easily file complaints against insurance providers.
  • The bill would require insurance companies to disclose specific details about their policies. For example, how do they define a preexisting conditions or will the claims you file this year affect your premiums next year?

The original bill banned insurers from denying coverage to an animal due to pre-existing conditions. However, by removing that petition, the bill gained support from the ASPCA, the Humane Society, and Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), a large insurance provider.

What won’t change? With veterinary health insurance, you actually pay the entire cost of the vet visit up front, then submit the claim for reimbursement. Also, you can continue to go to any licensed veterinarian – without any sort of referral or network coverage.

The bill – having passed the state Assembly and a Senate insurance committee – awaits hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee. California is the only state to have a bill of this kind in the works.

Considering an insurance plan for your pet? Read consumers’ first-hand experiences with several insurance companies at Pet Insurance Review.

Image: Eric__I_E