“Are we legislating stiffer requirements for pets than humans?”
That’s the way it would seem after reading Bob Vineyard’s article at InsureBlog. He discusses a state bill proposed by NJ lawmakers that would require anyone selling pets in NJ to provide written notice to their customers about the options available for pet health insurance.
We have health insurance on both of our pets, although it’s not an obvious choice like health insurance for people. Jay thinks it’s a waste of money, but I like the peace of mind. But as any married couple knows, the wife makes the decisions, so our pets are insured. Although worst-case scenario medical bills for pets are a far cry from worst case scenario bills for humans, vet bills can add up quickly in the event of a serious illness or injury. And for a relatively small premium, we buy health insurance coverage that would pay part of the bills if we did need extensive care for either of our pets. So far, it hasn’t provided much of a financial benefit to us over the years. I hope that both of our pets live long and healthy lives, and that we never get our money’s worth from their insurance. But isn’t that what we hope for with any insurance product?
With that disclaimer out of the way, I must say, the proposed legislation seems like it might possibly have been influenced by companies that sell pet insurance. And Bob makes a very good point about people and pets. Is there a law requiring all hospitals to present health insurance information to new parents before they take their baby home?
Pet insurance isn’t for everyone. Older pets aren’t always eligible. Most policies still have high out of pocket amounts that might be out of reach for some families even with the insurance policy paying part of the claims.
I’m sure that if this bill gets passed, the notification about insurance options would get buried somewhere in the paperwork and barely be noticed by most people. But I agree with Bob – it seems like the legislature might have too much time on their hands. Animal welfare is high on my priority list, and I’m very much in favor of laws that work to protect animals from mistreatment and cruelty. But before any state starts mandating that shelters and pet stores provide pet insurance information to customers, we should probably focus on making sure that people know how to qualify for Medicaid and SCHIP, and are automatically provided with information about eligibility for human health insurance.
I found Bob’s article in the Cavalcade Of Risk, which was hosted last week by Debbie Dragon at American Consumer News. The Colorado Health Insurance Insider article about misconceptions surrounding previous declines by health insurance companies was included in the Cavalcade. Debbie included a quote from Albert Einstein that I’ve always liked: “Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.” Good words to ponder in a week that kicks off with a national day of service in honor or Martin Luther King Jr, followed by the inauguration of our nation’s first African American president. We are getting there, America. Slowly, but surely.