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“Planet Money” looks at pet health insurance

The pros and cons of pet health insurance were examined on NPR’s “Planet Money” yesterday.

Reporter David Kestenbaum interviewed veterinarians, insurance providers, an economist and pet owners — including one whose hedgehog, Harriet, recently needed a cancerous lump removed. Fortunately, she was covered.

“Pet health care is now crossing the same magic threshold that human health care crossed decades ago: It’s getting good, and it’s getting expensive,” Kestenbaum reported. “Veterinary bills are becoming large enough that people are starting to think it would be nice to have someone else pay for them — like an insurer.”

The business is growing rapidly, at a pace of 15 or 20 percent a year, according to the report.

“It’s an open question whether pet health care will also mimic the problems of human care, with costs that keep climbing and lots of waste. The problem with insurance, economists say, is that it separates people from the money they’re spending. Why not get that extra medical test, if it’s covered by insurance?”

You can read or listen to the report here.


Comment from Anne’n'Spencer
Time October 22, 2009 at 11:54 am

What they’re not telling us is that pet insurance companies make it next to impossible to be able to afford insurance for an older dog–and by that, I mean a dog over the age of seven. The fees are egregious once a dog gets to be that age. So if you’re rescuing a middle-aged or older dog, insurance is hardly an option.

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