Pet Insurance

It broke my heart last week when I came home from a trip to visit my father, to find Lila still under the effects of the anesthesia used to make it easier for her teeth cleaning. She wanted to get up and greet me, but her legs weren’t steady and she just lay there on the floor, waiting for me to come to her. She is fine today, almost a week later and doesn’t seem to miss the three molars they extracted. A once-a-year teeth cleaning is recommended but I confess we have not been very diligent about that. I admit her breath is neutral now and the ugly tartar is gone from her teeth, but just the idea that something could go wrong with the anesthesia is what kept me from making the appointment. After all, she is 12 years old.

We talked about the procedure with our children who have cats and dogs and one other very important item: pet insurance. Pet insurance? Is that really a thing in the U.S. I asked? Well, apparently. We have been living in Costa Rica for more than 20 years. We never had canine or feline companions in New York so we never had to worry about anything to do with walking or licensing or insuring any. Our children grew up with companions here (that was one of the pros bribes to moving) so when they moved back to the U.S. their natural inclination was to adopt a couple of cats and dogs! Prices for everything in New York concerning medicine/dentistry/veterinarian are exorbitant. I simply cannot get my mind around what it costs to have a companion, equal if not more than to have a child. And it’s not that I don’t think they are worth it, I just can’t understand how it happened.

I researched pet insurance and although there is not much literature available, I was able to locate a short history of pet insurance from a MetLife website. According to them, pet insurance began in Sweden in the early 1980’s. It has now become so widespread that about 46.3 million households in the United States have four-footed companions and a very good percentage of them have insurance. If you don’t have insurance and something is required, you need to be prepared to face some very hefty out-of-pocket expenses when your companions need anything. Comparing prices of teeth cleaning between New York and Costa Rica is laughable, so I won’t bore you with that detail.

Costa Rica has become a very expensive place to visit or live in. However, I have to say that I admire our public medical system (slow and inefficient as it can sometimes be). Medical tourism is popular and I understand now why people come here for procedures that have become safe and routine. If Otis (remember him?!) was a better traveler, I might suggest that they bring him here for any procedures but I suppose the better plan is to make sure the insurance coverage is always current.

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