Cancer and Pet Insurance.

Imri was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer about 4 months ago. This post is going to share what pet insurance paid for from my first appointment to look at this weird lump on his foot, to final surgery and treatment. Unfortunately, he is still living with cancer – but he’s doing well.

I noticed a weird lump on my dog’s foot in the webbing between his toes. It took a while to get in for an appointment, so when we went he’d had it about a month. They were suspicious from moment one. In the office, they aspirated it and put it under a microscope and knew it was cancer immediately. How advanced, what grade/type, was mostly unknown.

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Not going to get in the sticky wickets of treatment details as each dog and vet is different, but we did several rounds of meds to prep for surgery in two weeks.

We did a surgical removal and sent the samples to pathology where we received his diagnosis. I was back to the vet every 3 days or so for about 3 weeks for bandage changes. That’s a lot of visits.

Once mostly healed, we visited the veterinary oncologist at the local specialist center to discuss what options we had for his future. We’re in a wait and see, watch and monitor situation at this point. He will continue living with his cancer for as long as he is happy. And he’s a very good, happy boi.

The financial break down of my first submitted claim:
Initial appointment plus labs, UA and aspirate/slide
Multiple medications to prep for surgery
Surgery for removal plus sent out to lab
X rays day of surgery to check for spread/other tumors
Antibiotics / pain meds RX
A couple rounds of bandage changes

Total: $1,697.28 Insurance paid: $1,202.96

The insurance does not cover the sales tax on any items (meds, cones, ect), about $15 here, but the major not covered item was the xrays. Insurance does not cover items done with no diagnosis after. So we did the xrays to make sure there wasn’t spread – if there was and he had a diagnosis it would have been covered. Finding nothing wrong? YAY! But also: boo $.

Next round of charges:
Multiple bandage changes
Another round antibiotics
Veterinary Oncology consult ($195)

Total: $303.75 Insurance paid: $301.25 (Sales tax).

Final numbers:
Insurance paid out: $1,504.21

His annual policy is expensive at 12 years of age. It JUMPED from 2020 to 2021 from $1,600 annually to $2,400 annually. I know, gulp. Please know: he has the highest end plan you can buy, with additional riders. There are much less expensive plans that cover only emergencies. His covers a lot more.

Even so. I paid out $2,400. For just this instance, pet insurance paid me $1,504.21 Add in his monthly prescriptions for the year: $1,010. Flea meds: $75 and his other appts during this year’s premium period: $311.30

My deductible is $100 (which also impacts the premium total.)

Total for this premium term (which still has 4 months remaining): $2,900.51

Of note: chemo / radiation would be a covered benefit by the pet insurance if I had pursued it, but it wasn’t recommended at this time.

And this has been my experience with this dog for most of his life. See this article from a couple years ago where I tallied how far ahead I was. I’ve been paid out over $10k more than I’ve paid in over the years. Here’s another article I wrote about my last dog Grace, and her final few months with a chronic autoimmune disease and how pet insurance paid out for her.

I need to write an article on Charles. Whom I adopted in January 2020, and just over a month later (the pet insurance has a 30 wait period) ended up with aspiration pneumonia that took 5 months and multiple rounds of treatments to cure. His policy was $500, which he earned out in the first MONTH.

Things to know: Every state has different insurance rules and regulations. Not all policies are available in all locations and how insurance works may be different for you. I’m in Washington state and I have Nationwide Pet insurance. Used to be called VPI. I have had my various dogs on their plans for over 15 years. I DO NOT have a relationship with them – no affiliate/referral. I just believe that as a low income pet owner, pet insurance of some kind is the responsible thing to do. I could not afford a large vet bill and that isn’t their fault, but I could afford a monthly fee. It also used to be a much smaller premium, but no regrets as this dang dog has earned it out every damn year.


One comment

  1. Wow – thank you! I just adopted a senior chihuahua mix and was trying to figure out what, if any, insurance was worth getting for her. I really appreciate your detailed and easily-understood breakdown of how it has worked out for you. Thanks!


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