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Follow up...is it a vet's responsibility to make veterinary care affordable?

Posted in Our Community @ Jul 9th 2015 - By Judy Gillespie, Vetanswers
Is It A Vets Responsibility To Make Pet Care Affordable

Last week we published a Blog Post asking a question for Dr Liz, a member of our Community: Is it a vet’s responsibility to make veterinary care affordable for pet owners? and it received some great comments directly on the post and also on the Vetanswers Facebook Page after I shared the link.

Everyone had very valid points to make and I don’t think anyone believes this is an easy question with one right answer but some of the comments did get me thinking with my pet owner’s hat on.

So as a pet owner and possibly one of your clients, do I believe it’s a vet’s responsibility to make veterinary care affordable? 

Well no I don’t but I do believe it’s my vet’s responsibility to make a range of care options available to me and to also accept that I may not be able to afford the highest care option available. I’d hope that my vet would understand that he or she doesn’t fully know my circumstances and therefore may not necessarily understand why I have made the decision I have made.

One response on Facebook suggested it was the pet owner’s responsibility to ensure that they can "..afford any care required" and on the surface that seems like a fair call but does that mean that people who struggle to meet their weekly commitments shouldn’t have a pet? Is that fair on their families when we all know the mental and emotional benefits of pet ownership?  What about elderly people whose financial situations have become worse over time?  Should they not have a pet?

And what stage does ‘any care required’ stop? If my dog required surgery that was going to cost $2,000 – well ok we could manage that. $5,000 - it would be a challenge but we’d make it work. $10,000? $20,000? At what stage would ‘any care required’ stop? As the range and availability of veterinary care options continues to grow so will the ‘any care required’ options and the subsequent veterinary bills. 

So is this where pet insurance comes into the discussion?

I agree that pet insurance could be the solution to many of these issues but I also believe that we’re a long way from pet insurance actually providing the solution. 

Just over 12 months ago I wrote a blog post with my thoughts on pet insurance:  A 52% price increase this year (or 119% over 5 years) is never going to be ok. As a pet owner I agree that I should have pet insurance but I don’t. My family has the highest cover medical insurance, we have top home and contents insurance and the necessary car insurance. We have life, income insurance and business insurance. So why don’t we have pet insurance?

I chose not to renew Nina’s pet insurance 12 months ago as explained in my blog post due to the actions of my pet insurance company.  I did fully intend on signing up for more insurance but the more I looked into it the more confused I became – could I find a company that wouldn’t have skyrocketing premiums? What if I continued to pay but then when I needed it found I’d misread part of the thoroughly confusing policy and we couldn’t make the claim? I know this is my last chance to choose a company due to Nina’s age so I have to make the right choice. Or I could choose to do nothing and take my chances - after all we said goodbye to our other staffy Isabel, one month short of her 19th birthday after a remarkably long and healthy life.  Could we be lucky with Nina too?

I’m not suggesting that any of my thoughts regarding pet insurance are particularly logical or sensible but they’re my reality – and I’d also suggest that they’re the reality of many of your clients.  Yes pet insurance would solve many of the issues raised by Dr Liz’s question to our Community but the fact is it is often too confusing and often too expensive for many pet owners to consider. I’ve made some suggestions on how I think pet insurance could be made more affordable in the same blog post but I can’t see anything ever changing.

So where does it leave us with regards to Dr Liz’s question?  I’m not sure we’ve really managed to come up with many answers – apart from maybe the fact that no one believes it’s a vet’s responsibility to make veterinary care affordable for pet owners – but it’s been a really interesting discussion to have all the same!   

I’d be more than happy to hear your opinions or views – you can either leave your comments in the section below or write your own blog post on the topic. It’s easy – all you need to do is email me.

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