In 2018, my husband and I rescued a four-and-a-half-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Lexie. Within a few days of bringing her home, I took her in for a checkup. Other than being a little overweight and due for her vaccinations, she was in good health overall.
This was a huge relief; the breed is prone to heart murmurs later in life, requiring expensive medications. Since the condition is inevitable at some point, I knew pet insurance would be a way to offset the potential costs down the road. I also realized that if they discovered an irregular heartbeat at any time before signing up for a policy, it would have disqualified Lexie for heart disease coverage since it would have been a pre-existing condition. So, time was ticking. The sooner we get her on a plan, the better.
I went to the various pet insurance providers’ websites and put in Lexie’s age, breed, and our location to get free quotes within minutes. Similar to car insurance, it doesn’t hurt to compare prices, alongside deductibles and benefits. I ended up with a company that satisfied our requirements. Within a few hours, Lexie had her very own health insurance.
Other than reading all the fine print and the required waiting periods for accidents and illnesses based on her medical history, the process of signing up was easy and quick. We pay a little each month now, but with the assurance that she’ll be covered if a health emergency arises.
The unthinkable happens
Seven months went by without a claim. Then, it was time for Lexie’s dental cleaning. Even though we didn’t have the optional wellness policy that reimburses for preventative care like routine oral cleanings, I was pleasantly surprised to find they covered her tooth extractions, bloodwork, medications, and medical waste costs.
However, during the exam, the vet discovered a lump on the back of Lexie’s throat. The vet called while Lexie was under anesthesia and asked if we wanted a biopsy for lab testing. Without hesitation or knowing the cost, we said absolutely. We knew that finding answers would ease our minds and provide a better understanding of how to proceed.
Luckily, the insurance policy reimbursed the biopsy. After that procedure, Lexie had already met the deductible, so any medical needs for the rest of the year would be included under her policy benefits.
Unfortunately, a week later, we received the heartbreaking news that the test results came back as squamous cell carcinoma or tonsil cancer. We immediately scheduled appointments with local specialists, including a surgeon, oncologist, and chemotherapist, to determine our treatment options.
With a shockingly short life expectancy prognosis, we further educated ourselves on ways to minimize the cancer cells’ spread and regrowth throughout her body.
I heard about holistic medicine from a fellow Cavalier dog mom and asked her doctors if that could be beneficial. They recommended a vet who has experience working with their other cancer patients and found success. Though the herbal supplements and oils were not covered by pet insurance, her consultation fee was. In addition to chemotherapy, she also mentioned blood infusions as an option covered by insurance.
Worth every penny
Having a beloved pet is an amazing but huge responsibility (both personally and financially). I never anticipated needing pet insurance this early in Lexie’s life, but couldn’t be more thankful for it. In three emotionally draining months, it saved us nearly $10,000 in vet bills, including costs for mass removal, CT scans, chest X-rays, consultation fees, and more.
Though Lexie’s life is priceless and worth every penny, I can’t imagine making a critical health decision based on cost. She’s a fighter and we are hopeful for more time together. I am so grateful for the advanced medicine that makes it possible to prolong a pet’s quality of life while providing the best possible healthcare. Lexie deserves the best and we are so pleased to be able to give it to her in exchange for all the love she has brought into our lives.
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