The Cost– a plea for insurance.


I wanted to talk about something that I haven’t talked much about since Jersey had his neck/spinal surgery 3 weeks ago. THE COST. In total, Jersey’s recent experience at CanWest cost $10,200. That paid for specialist exams, diagnostics (which, when CT Scans & MRIs are involved can cost thousands), a cardiac ultrasound, soft palate surgery, neck/spinal surgery, ICU for several days, & all medications.

Do I have $10,200 laying around? No. No I do not. But because we are insured, we didn’t need it. Of Jersey’s $10,200 bill, we paid $1,700.

We would have paid less, however the Cardiac Ultrasound and Cardiac Exam was not covered by our policy as Jersey’s heart murmur is his one health issue which is considered “pre-existing”. No big deal though. $1,700! That’s ALL we were required to pay. Not only that, but Trupanion paid their portion (all $8,500 of it) upfront, so that we didn’t need to somehow pay it and then be reimbursed.

When Oslo had his spinal surgery 5.5 years ago, to the tune of $7,500, we were not insured. Not only were we not insured, but I didn’t even have access to $7,500 on even a credit card. The money DID NOT EXIST. I was forced to consider euthanizing my (then) 3 year old dog because I could not afford his vet bills. It was absolutely the worst day, most awful day of my life. I remember meeting with the neurosurgeon before we “made our decision” to hear from his mouth what our options were. A large part of me was prepared to say goodbye to Oslo that day. I wouldn’t wish that experience on my worst enemy.

I promptly learned my lesson and got my boys insured. Unfortunately  because I waited until after Oslo had spinal issues to get the insurance, he is not covered in the future for anything spinal. That is now “pre existing”. However, Jersey was still a healthy pup so his coverage is excellent.

Fast forward to 5.5 years later. I am back at the same Veterinary Specialist with my other dog, for a similar surgery (only this time, it’s even more expensive). I am calm, I am collected, I am at peace. I have brought my dog to the best canine neurosurgeon in the country and I know he is in the best possible hands. Estimates for surgery are presented to me, on paper, totalling over $10,000. I look them over, giving that $10,000 figure barely a second glance, look the surgeon in the eye and say, “I want to do whatever you think is in Jersey’s best interest.”

The cost is completely inconsequential. The only thing that matters is what is best for Jersey.

As I pay my share of the $7,150 deposit (which is a measly $550, by the way), I smile warmly with the receptionists. We tell a few jokes. I marvel at how different this experience was from the last time I was in.

There are people who argue that insurance is a waste of money, and that pet owners would be better “diligently saving money every money” for unexpected health costs. That may be a wise idea if you have a dog who will never cost you more than a few thousand in vet bills over the course of the dog’s life… But simple math tells us that it is NOT the wisest choice for some breeds.

In Jersey’s situation, even if we had saved $100 a month, every month (yeah right! who is that diligent?) since he was 12 weeks old, we would have just $4,800 in the bank. Maybe a bit more if you add on some interest. $4,800 wouldn’t even pay for HALF of this recent vet bill!! Not even HALF!

…. And that doesn’t even mention the $1500 we spent in September on a bout of liver inflammation. Or the $2000 in July on a bladder & prostate infection.. And that is just 2016! I could go on and on and on.

Some dogs are unhealthy. Frenchies (and bulldogs in general) are notorious for have complicated and on going health issues as adults. It is my opinion and experience that the best possible thing you can do for your high-risk breed puppy is GET GOOD INSURANCE, and get it early. Don’t wait until they are sick with something, as that condition will no longer be covered (“pre-existing”) You must insure them when they are young and healthy.

I spend $220 a month to insure my two dogs. Is it expensive? Yes. But it’s worth every single penny. Even if I never made a claim it would be worth every penny. Being able to face a $10,200 vet bill and not even flinch. Being able to be concerned only with doing what is best for my dog, with no regard to cost makes insurance absolutely worth it. I cannot tell you how different my two experiences at CanWest were– one without insurance, the other with. I sincerely hope that none of you ever have to go through what I went through (and what Oslo went though!!) when we were not insured.

Please, please, please get insurance for your high-risk puppy today. It could literally be the difference between you deciding to euthanize your beloved family member, or getting them the life saving medical care they need.



2 thoughts on “The Cost– a plea for insurance.

  1. I read this post while listening to Gizmo madly chase something around the back yard, barking like a loon. I am tearing up in gratitude for you and Oslo and Jersey. I still have my fur baby beacause of Oslo’s story. Your struggles to fund his surgery finalized the decision to insure Gizmo. Your willingness to share info about IVDD allowed us to recognize his symptoms early and seek treatment. YOU made it possible for me to look at Giz’s surgeon and say “Whatever is best for him, I don’t care about the cost”. Two surgeries and $11,000 in bills (we paid $2,000) later, I still am more grateful than I can say. Thank you!!!!

    1. It makes me feel SO warm and fuzzy to read this thoughtful comment. Thank you so much for your kind words! I am so glad that I was able to get through to *someone* and that it made such a difference. Your story alone makes every hour I have spent blogging in the last 5 years worth while. Huge hugs to you & Giz!

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