Pet health insurance boosts client spending, DVM visits, survey says

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Feb 01, 2009

CHICAGO — Clients with pet health insurance spend and visit the veterinarian more, according to a survey conducted by the Brakke Veterinary Practice Management Group for the National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues (NCVEI).

The report is the first in a series of planned NCVEI papers on the veterinary profession and takes an objective look at the pet health-insurance industry. The eight-page guide is meant to help veterinarians understand pet health insurance and how it could benefit them.

Concern among veterinarians is one of the key factors prohibiting the growth of pet insurance, because they think it will result in a managed-care system like the human-health industry, survey sponsors say.

"While pet insurance doesn't have the 'managed care' problems that human insurance does, there is some similarity between dental insurance and pet insurance," says Dr. Karen E. Felsted, chief executive officer of NCVEI. "Numerous studies have show that those with dental insurance spend more annually on dental care than those without insurance. Research on the veterinary side indicates a similar spending increase."

The cost of pet care, thanks to better diagnostic tools, and the emotional attachment of owners to their pets, have increased greatly over the last 25 years, the survey says, creating a growing need for pet health insurance.

Clients who use pet health insurance had a 41 percent higher stop-treatment threshold, scheduled 40 percent more veterinary visits and spent twice as much on veterinary care over the lives of their pets, according to another survey cited by Brakke.