The Best Pet Wellness Plans That Cover What Insurance Won't – Yahoo News

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Pet Insurance vs. Pet Wellness
Best Pet Wellness Plans of 2022
Final Verdict
Compare the Best Pet Wellness Plans
Frequently Asked Questions
Methodology
Even though pets are members of the family, we can’t exactly hand over our own health insurance cards to the veterinarian after a visit. Bummer, right? And pet care is no small expense, even if your furry companion has no pre-existing conditions.
There are ways to save on your pet’s vet and medication bills, though. Two of the most popular options are pet insurance and pet wellness plans. Each type works a little differently, but both are intended to take the sting out of vet bills. In order to pick the right health coverage for your animal, it’s important to understand the differences between the two as well as how they complement each other.
Although pet insurance and pet wellness plans have the same goal—to help keep your pet as healthy as possible—they are designed a little bit differently.
“Wellness plans are preventative, with specific products/services included,” President of the American Veterinary Medical Association José Arce, DVM, explains to Daily Paws, citing examples of covered services such as general annual examinations, vaccines, and antiparasitics. On the other hand, “Insurance helps cover expenses for unplanned illnesses and injuries.”
Think about it from the perspective of human health care: A yearly physical is an example of preventative care, but a visit to urgent care is typically unexpected. You can easily make the argument that having coverage for both scenarios is wise.
Here, we outline five of the best pet wellness plans—including ways their benefits differ. Of course, you should consult your veterinarian about the types of care your pet is most likely to benefit from before signing up for any of the plans below.
Best for Preventative Service Coverage: Banfield Pet Hospital
Best for Medical Expense Reimbursement: Eusoh
Best for an Easily Accessible Emergency Fund: Pawp
Best for Pre-Existing Condition Coverage: Pet Assure
Best for Discounts on Prescriptions & Supplements: PetPlus
Enrollment Fee: $57.95
Average Premium: $50.62/month
Multi-Pet Discount? Yes
Banfield Pet Hospital offers packages called Optimum Wellness Plans (OWPs), which come with comprehensive preventative care coverage for puppies, kittens, and adult dogs and cats. On top of the set packages (see below), pet parents can add on a number of other services if their pet requires them.
Plan benefits include unlimited in-office visits, two virtual office visits, and discounts on various Banfield services. OWPs are different from pet insurance in that they cover routine care initiatives that are necessary to keep your pet healthy year-round instead of unexpected vet visits for accidents and illnesses. Banfield plans can be paid for annually or be broken up into 12 monthly payments at no extra cost.
Pros
Multiple plan options
Virtual pet health services
Dental care coverage
No interest on monthly payments
Extra support for chronic pet conditions
Cons
Plans can only be used at Banfield locations
Not available in all states
Note: Prices vary by location. The prices below are based on a Des Moines, Iowa ZIP code.
Enrollment Fee: $10–$20/month
Average Premium: $25/month for cats; $55/month for dogs
Multi-Pet Discount? Yes
Eusoh is a unique community health sharing plan that reimburses members for the following types of expenses: medical, wellness, illness, and routine care. Networks are not part of the equation, so pet parents can go to whatever pet health provider they want, including their local veterinarian. Members pay the vet directly, then submit expenses for reimbursement from the plan, based on predetermined rates.
The company’s cost-sharing structure is what makes it stand out from the pack. Instead of an insurance company covering part of the cost, up to 80 percent of the funds come from fellow community members. Reimbursement amounts are based on national service averages and can’t exceed $8,500 in one year.
Pros
Includes both preventative and emergency care
24/7 access to Televet
No network restrictions
Transparent cost structure
Unused fees are credited to members’ accounts
Cons
Extra monthly membership fee
Reimbursement percentage can vary
Price for one dog: $75/month
Price for one cat: $35/month
Enrollment Fee: $0
Average Premium: $24/month
Multi-Pet Discount? No
Pet health emergencies can leave a gigantic dent in your wallet, so having a dedicated fund for surprise medical expenses is a game changer. For $24 a month, Pawp members gain access to a monetary safety net that covers one vet bill annually, up to $3,000.
Though pet insurance can be used multiple times a year, there’s typically a deductible in place, meaning most insurance plans don’t offer 100-percent reimbursement. With Pawp, your entire bill will be paid for if it’s under $3,000. Membership also includes unlimited consultations with a veterinarian via video or text and discounts on prescription medications. Since the fund can only be used for emergency care, pet parents typically pair Pawp with a second pet wellness plan, like Banfield, that covers preventative services.
Pros
Up to six pets can be covered under one membership
Total bill amount is eligible for reimbursement
24/7 access to Pawp veterinarians
No restrictions for pre-existing conditions
Can be used at any vet clinic
Cons
Authorization is required to activate fund
Money can’t be split between multiple vet bills
Monthly Pawp membership: $24/month
Enrollment Fee: $0
Average Premium: $9.95/month for cats; $11.95/month for dogs
Multi-Pet Discount? Yes
If your pet has a pre-existing condition, it can be difficult to find coverage. But Pet Assure is all-inclusive, meaning you will receive veterinary discounts no matter what type of pet you own, their age, and their current health status. In addition to covering cancer care, diabetes management, and allergy treatment, Pet Assure can be used for common vet services, including vaccinations, dental work, spay and neuter procedures, and more.
Instead of reimbursing members after the fact, Pet Assure offers the savings up front and no deductibles need to be met. Prices vary from $9.95 to $11.95 per month for a single animal, or you can opt for the Family plan, which covers between two and four animals of any size for $16.95 a month. If your pet posse is more than four, there’s also an Unlimited plan ($21.95/month). One downside to Pet Assure is that it’s currently only available as an employee benefit, so if your employer is not signed up for the program, you aren’t able to purchase a plan separately.
Pros
All types of pets are covered
No waiting period to use coverage
No procedure exclusions
Unlimited plan usage
Discount provided upfront
Cons
Only available through select employers
Cannot be used at all vet offices
Note: All plans are subject to employer approval.
Price for one small animal (cat, bird, rabbit, etc.): $9.95/month
Price for one large animal (dog, horse, pig, etc.): $11.95/month
Price for two to four animals: $16.95/month
Price for an unlimited amount of pets: $21.95/month
Enrollment Fee: $0
Average Premium: $139.95/year
Multi-Pet Discount? Yes
Part of keeping our pets healthy is making sure they get the medications they need to live their best lives. These include flea and tick preventatives, heartworm products, and specialty foods if your furry companion has certain dietary needs. With PetPlus, members gain access to wholesale pricing on hundreds of medications, an area that isn’t always covered by pet insurance. Free delivery is an added incentive.
One of pet parents’ favorite aspects of the plan is that they’re guaranteed to save more than the membership fee ($139.95) each year and will receive a credit if they don’t (on average, members save $198 per year). You’ll also have a direct line to a vet specialist 24/7 via phone, email, or chat for questions about your pet’s health or medication.
Pros
Guaranteed savings
Free delivery
24/7 vet specialist helpline
No exclusions for pre-existing conditions
Monthly price comes out to less than $12
Cons
Only covers dogs and cats
Price for one pet: $139.95/year
Price for each additional pet: $100/year
Pet wellness plans help cover necessary preventative care measures that animals routinely require and make obtaining this care more affordable in the long run. Some plans are also designed to ease the financial burden of unplanned expenses.
As always, you should talk to your veterinarian before obtaining any type of coverage—insurance or wellness. Since they know your pet’s history, they will be able to provide specific recommendations and can answer questions about different coverage options.
Pet wellness plans are designed to reimburse or offer discounts to members for various wellness costs, such as vaccinations, dental cleanings, surgical procedures, prescriptions, and more. The coverage varies depending on the provider and should be discussed with your veterinarian.
“It is important that pet owners clearly understand the scope of what their pet insurance policy covers so they are not caught off-guard if their policy does not provide coverage,” Arce explains to Daily Paws.
Some pet wellness plans, like Pawp, provide savings on emergency care, whereas other plans, like Banfield’s Optimum Wellness Plans, help cover preventative care services. The great thing about pet wellness plans is that many of them can be used in conjunction with one another. For instance, a pet parent could be a member of Banfield, Pawp, and PetPlus, which would cover their pets’ routine care, emergency care, and prescription costs, respectively. It all depends on how much coverage a parent wants and a pet requires.
The total amount on a vet bill can come as quite a shock if your pet is uninsured. The number one way to keep costs down? By practicing preventative care, according to veterinarians.
“Treating a serious illness can be 25 times more expensive than preventing it,” says Ari Zabell, DVM, who has worked with Banfield Pet Hospital for 26 years.
Arce agrees: “Regular veterinary visits and a commitment to preventive care can help keep costs lower and more predictable while catching problems before they become serious and more costly to treat.”
However, Arce and the American Veterinary Medical Association recommend talking to your veterinarian about pet insurance, too. “Pet owners should always be prepared for unexpected expenses,” Arce says. Pet insurance and wellness plans “can help keep a pet owner’s veterinary expenses down, particularly for higher-priced care such as complicated surgeries or cancer diagnosis and treatment.”
In our search for the best pet insurance, our research team uncovered pet wellness providers that offer coverage beyond the scope of traditional pet insurance plans. In total, we collected more than 2,000 data points and weighed the following factors for each company:
Plan options
Enrollment & monthly membership fees
Plan inclusions & exclusions
Discounts, including multi-pet savings
Coverage limits
Location restrictions
Access to a helpline
We also considered whether a plan provides enough coverage to stand on its own or if it more often than not gets paired with a pet insurance policy or a second pet wellness plan. Ultimately, we chose to highlight companies that represent a range of coverage options, from preventative care and pre-existing conditions to prescriptions and emergency procedures.
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