Health insurance

3 Ways Pet Insurance Is Different From Human Health Insurance

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Pet owners should be aware of these key differences affecting their coverage.


Key points

  • Both human health insurance and pet insurance can cover health care.
  • There are important differences between human insurance and pet insurance.
  • Pet owners should understand these differences as they affect the coverage available.

Most people know the importance of having humane health insurance in order to take care of themselves and their loved ones. Pet owners also know that buying pet insurance is also crucial because pets are part of the family and also deserve advanced medical care if they need it, even if it it’s expensive.

But what many pet owners don’t realize is that there are very important differences between human health insurance and pet insurance. Here are three big differences to consider that could affect the coverage available.

1. Pet insurance can exclude pre-existing conditions, but human insurance cannot.

One of the biggest differences between pet insurance and human health insurance concerns pre-existing conditions.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (better known as ObamaCare) prohibited humane insurance companies from denying health coverage to people because of pre-existing conditions. He also banned insurers from charging them higher premiums because of existing medical conditions.

Because these protections are in place under ObamaCare, insurers won’t be able to penalize people who got sick before they were covered by a human health insurance plan. Even people with serious medical conditions can purchase insurance during the open enrollment season which takes place once a year. Once registered, they can pay the same price as anyone else of the same age at the same place and can get their medical care for the condition covered by the insurance.

This is not the case for pet insurance. Every pet insurer has rules regarding pre-existing conditions. As a general rule, if an animal had a medical problem before it was covered, any treatment that may be related to that existing problem will not be covered by the insurer in the future. This means that if the owner of an animal does not take out insurance for his animal before it becomes ill, the owner must pay for all the necessary care on his own.

Some pet insurers have a slightly looser rule on pre-existing conditions than others. For example, if the condition is acute rather than chronic and an animal has been recovering from it for some time, the insurer may resume offering coverage for a similar problem after an appropriate time.

But, in any case, if a pet has an existing medical condition, there is no guarantee that a pet insurer will have to offer coverage if the pet owner wants it.

2. Pet insurance typically doesn’t cover preventative care, but human insurance does.

Most human insurance plans pay for preventative care as a matter of course. In fact, even high-deductible health plans usually provide fairly comprehensive coverage for preventive services even before the deductible is reached.

Most pet insurance plans, on the other hand, are only intended to pay for necessary care after an accident or when a pet is sick. In other words, standard plans do not cover routine veterinary care or wellness care such as visits for vaccinations.

Now, some pet insurers offer supplemental wellness plans that provide this coverage. But not everyone does it and it represents an additional expense, which is not the case for human health coverage.

3. Many pet insurance policies have lifetime coverage limits, unlike human insurance policies.

Finally, it is common for pet insurers to limit the amount of coverage an animal can receive per year or per condition. Human health insurers, on the other hand, cannot impose lifetime limits on coverage.

For all these reasons, human insurance is more comprehensive than pet insurance. Pet owners should be aware of the differences and make sure they understand the coverage they are buying and have the money saved to pay for anything their policy won’t cover.