Although only 1% of companion animal owners carry health insurance on their pets in the United States, the numbers are growing: in the past 2 years, the number of policies has doubled. There is speculation about what effect pet health insurance plans will have on veterinary practice. Some think that insurance will be a solution for clients who would otherwise euthanize pets when the cost of veterinary care outstrips their budget. Others are concerned that veterinary health insurance will create the problems of managed care that face human health care providers. Some of the reasons for the growth of pet insurance may be the technical and clinical progress in veterinary medicine. We can now provide services that were not available in years past. The human-animal bond is another reason for the popularity of pet insurance. Clients consider their pets to be part of the family and want to provide the best for them. The decision to market directly to pet owners also accounts for the increase in policies. Companies (such as The Weather Channel) are also offering pet health insurance as an employee benefit. Currently, since pets are legally classified as property in most states, pet health insurance is more like car insurance. The contractual arrangement is between the pet owner and the insurance company, reducing the amount of paperwork required by the veterinarian. The major providers have vowed to limit the paperwork except in rare cases.

Fear of scrutiny. Boulard B. Trends Magazine Jan/Feb:34-38, 2004.