Veterinary Treatments: Finding the Right Balance

Gaby Hinsliff, a writer for the Times newspaper makes the amusing remark that in veterinary circles the dog is known as a “frequent flyer” because they eat almost anything with the consequential ensuing veterinary visit for “foreign bodies” in the gut or some other gastric health problem.

Pet health insurance

Her dog has recently been to the vet and the bill was enormous – “the cost of a small second-hand car” – but she didn’t have to pay; the insurance company did. If she had to pay would her dog have received the same extensive treatments?

Even veterinarians who are the best and who work to the highest standards of integrity will be tempted to explore the most cutting edge treatments when the magic words “yes, he’s insured” are mentioned.

The $64,000 question though is, “is the treatment really necessary?” Was there a less invasive but less profitable treatment available? There may not be any downsides financially but the patient has to go through the process. When a cat or dog is insured there are three main “players”; the cat owner, the vet and the insurance company. The patient is in the middle of it all without a say in the outcome.

When a cat or dog becomes geriatric there comes a time, regrettably, when even the most expensive treatments are merely prolonging the inevitable or “padding the bill” as Gaby Hinsliff calls it.

At the other end of the spectrum, judging by the proliferation of veterinary websites and online consultations there is a huge body of people who can’t honestly afford to take their cat or dog to the vet in a timely manner. Some cat owners do all they can – and I totally understand why – to avoid that dreaded vet visit. The cost is a major barrier. The uninsured pet is potentially under-treated. When there are choices to be made, pet owners paying for treatments at the vet’s clinic will often make decisions based (at least in part) on the cost – the opposite end of the monetary spectrum to the insured cat or dog.

I have described the two ends of the spectrum. The middle ground is best. The truth is there will always be distortions in health care due to financial pressures. Health is closely linked to money.

Photo (modified) by Brian Walker on Flickr

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Veterinary Treatments: Finding the Right Balance — 9 Comments

  1. l. Terrierman’s Daily Dose: Veterinary Trades Say It’s Time to Rip Off the Rubes.

    2. The Golden Age of Veterinary Medicine.

    These two web-posts explain why many people with conscience enough to care about the health of fur-children cannot afford to adopt them. The vets are in part to blame for the wholesale destruction of animals abandoned to the shelters.

    One vet in these towns charges @ $152.00 to kill a cat. A pitiful process taking six to eight minutes.

    Another equally competent vet, eight blocks down the street, charges $48.00.

    • Interesting Sylvia Ann. In the London, UK (a very expensive city) my vet charges £38. They are located in a posh area. Also my vet does not take the money there and then. You can pay much later.

      Health for people and pets is a dilemma in trying to get it right. Insurance has its failings and the NHS in England has its failings too.

    • We’ve never in 40 years insured our cats, we put money aside for their care and use it for nothing else, what we don’t have for ourselves, we do without.
      We had Walter at the vets yesterday, he’s not eating much and that’s not like him at all. Thankfully Sarah was on duty, she could only find that he has a bit of a sore throat and paw, she isn’t one who ‘meets the targets’ and gave him steroid/antibiotics and 24 hours to see if he improves. If not then it’s blood tests for him to identify if it is an infection, not a virus!
      He had a good supper but picky again today, he has until 3pm to improve and if so we can cancel today’s appointment, hoping and praying we don’t have to take him, it’s hot and distressing for him…..and us too.

  2. We’ll have to take Walt to the vets again this afternoon, he just isn’t interested in food…..very worried about him.

  3. Phew a long session today for poor Walter, thoroughly gone over again and blood taken, then we waited for the results, all his organs fine, liver, kidneys, heart, thyroid, no growths, but his white blood cells were up which means an infection but doesn’t say what. He’s had more steroid and a course of them now and the long acting antibiotic he had yesterday, some invalid food to tempt him to eat, hoping he gets better soon. He was so good bless him.

  4. I have a friend that carries insurance on her 2 dogs and says she would not be without it.

    I have never had insurance on any of my pets. It wouldn’t be in my best financial interest unless it was a catastrophic illness or disease because of the number of felines I have in my care. Michael, you are correct that in the end, health care is related to money, in pets and people.

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