Animal rescue New Orleans: Do you have to pay a premium for pet health care?

Photo provided by ARNO -- Trouble is a stunning shepherd mix. He loves the outdoors, riding in the car and playing at the dog park. He is at ARNO  awaiting his forever home. Contact adoptfromarno@yahoo.com. The adoption fee is $150 and includes neuter, shots and a chip.
Photo provided by ARNO -- Trouble is a stunning shepherd mix. He loves the outdoors, riding in the car and playing at the dog park. He is at ARNO awaiting his forever home. Contact adoptfromarno@yahoo.com. The adoption fee is $150 and includes neuter, shots and a chip.

By Charlotte Bass Lilly

Special to The Advocate

Veterinary science has brought our pets a long way from 20 years ago. Vets, including specialists, can treat illnesses and conditions that we never knew existed just a few years ago.

Of course, costly new diagnostic tools can also mean higher vet bills.

Enter pet insurance, at an average cost of $30 to $80 a month per pet, depending on the age of the pet. Pet insurance works just like any insurance. You can have a deductible and a maximum amount of what the insurance will cover. Some companies designate what they will pay on each type of procedure.

It is important to ask some serious questions of a provider as you consider whether to purchase pet insurance:

Is there a discount for multiple pets in the same family?

Will the premiums rise as the pet ages, or are you locked into the original premium?

What is the difference in premiums with higher deductibles?

What are the co-payments and cap of the policy limits, and does this vary by incident or per year, or the lifetime of the pet?

Scrutinize the policies available and look for exclusions. Some common conditions are excluded.

Another approach: Skip the insurance and put away some money every month for catastrophic pet illnesses. Of course, it’s not certain how many of us can or would do that.

Statistics do show that most of the time, clients with insured pets end up being charged more for health care than those who pay out of pocket for the procedures. Remember, you can always get a second opinion from specialists, so shop around for treatment of your pet. Vets often will lower their fees if they want to keep you as a client, and your pet as a patient.

It is estimated that there are more than 150 million pets in the U.S., and fewer than 1 million have pet insurance. Possibly as more pets are insured, premiums will get cheaper.

However, I doubt there will ever be socialized medicine for pets, or even Obamacare!

UPCOMING EVENTS: On Saturday the St. Tammany Parish Office of Animal Services will have adoptable animals at Christ Episcopal School’s Art in the Park, 80 Christwood Blvd. in Covington, from 10 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.

Also Saturday, visit “Mutts in the Marigny,” a pet-centered wellness fair and festival in the courtyard of the historic St. Paul Lutheran Church Courtyard, 2624 Burgundy St., New Orleans.

There will be pet adoptions, a pet blessing and some special fun events: owner/pet look-a-like contest and a kissing booth. Proceeds will benefit the Louisiana SPCA and Animal Rescue of New Orleans.

Free. Call (504) 656-4025 for more information.

On Sunday, Jefferson Parish Rabies Vaccination Drive, $15 (cash); http://www.Jeffersonspca.org for locations and more info.

On Sunday, visit the Animal Services adoption trailer at the Bow Wow Meow Fashion show to benefit Worthy Paws St. Tammany. The fashion show and fundraiser will be held at the Lake House in Mandeville, 2025 Lakeshore Drive, from noon to 3 p.m. To contact the Department of Animal Services call (985) 809-0183 or visit http://www.stpgov.org.

And on April 26, take part in the ARNO Golf Classic to benefit homeless pets, $25 (dinner); more info at http://www.arnogolf.org.

Charlotte Bass Lilly is CEO of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a 501c3 nonprofit. ARNO operates a volunteer-based, no-kill shelter in the Elmwood Industrial section of Jefferson Parish and depends upon the generosity of people from all over the country who have followed them since Katrina. Contact ARNO at arno.advocate@gmail.com, http://www.animalrescueneworleans.org or leave a message at (504)571-1900.