Pet wellness plans can help pet owners better manage routine and preventive care expenses for their pets. A wellness plan provides reimbursement for a wide range of routine veterinary costs that a pet owner may incur during a scheduled checkup. Pet wellness plans can be purchased as standalone plans or can be added to a pet health insurance plan to achieve comprehensive coverage.
When shopping for a pet wellness plan, you’ll discover plans available at all price points and with varying terms and coverage limits. It’s important to carefully review different plans to determine which is best suited for your needs. Not all pet owners require a pet wellness plan but most can benefit from having coverage, especially if they anticipate one or more vet visits in the upcoming year.
How Does a Pet Wellness Plan Work?
A pet wellness plan typically follows a structured claims and reimbursement process established by the plan issuer. The fine details of the process can vary from company to company but most follow a similar procedure.
Policyholders are generally required to submit an itemized invoice that includes the provider’s name and contact information, as well as the pet’s name, a full list of items billed including taxes and discounts, and proof of payment. This documentation must be submitted as soon as possible to receive reimbursement.
Many different types of preventive services are covered by pet wellness plans, including the following:
- Annual wellness visits or physical exams
- Routine blood work
- Urinalysis and fecal tests
- Grooming services
- Dental care
- Heartworm testing
- Flea, tick, and heartworm medicines
Pet wellness plans are commonly offered in tiers, ranging from basic plans to more comprehensive plans. The higher the tier, the higher the monthly premium, reimbursement limits, and the range of covered services. It’s important to consider what level of care your pet will require when choosing a tier.
It’s important not to confuse pet wellness plans with pet health insurance. Unlike pet wellness plans that cover preventive and routine procedures, pet health insurance covers illness and accident services, such as emergency care, congenital and hereditary conditions, and orthopedic conditions. Pet health insurance may also cover the cost of prescription medications, therapy, hospitalization, surgery, and tests like X-rays, cat scans, MRIs, and ultrasounds. However, when most people sign up for pet health insurance, they are offered a pet wellness plan as an add-on.
How Much Do Pet Wellness Plans Cost?
When determining whether or not a pet wellness plan is worth the cost, you have to consider how much you typically spend on preventive care for your pet. According to research conducted by SpendMeNot, cat owners typically pay between $559 and $652 out of pocket for preventive care in the first year. The average annual out-of-pocket cost is about $350 for each year after that. As cats typically live between 15 and 20 years, the total out-of-pocket cost for preventive care is around $6,550.
When it comes to dogs, pet owners generally spend between $893 and $921 the first year and between $469 and $514 each year after that. Dogs usually live between 8 and 15 years, depending on their size and breed, resulting in an average lifetime cost of $6,900.
The cheapest pet wellness plans start at around $10 per month. If you choose a cheaper plan at this cost, you can expect to pay around $1,200 for a pet over the course of 10 years. More comprehensive coverage can run you about $20 to $25 per month. At the high end, you would be paying around $3,000 over the course of 10 years, meaning you are still likely to save money.
Pet wellness plans are often more affordable when they are added to existing pet insurance policies. Many companies allow policyholders to get pet wellness plans as add-ons to their existing policies at a discounted price. Having both pet health insurance and a pet wellness plan can help ensure that your pet remains healthy and protected.
Is a Pet Wellness Plan Really Worth It?
One of the biggest questions surrounding pet wellness plans is whether or not they are worth the cost of routine care. Unlike pet health insurance which can cover large and unexpected emergency vet bills, pet wellness plans only cover preventive services like vaccinations, teeth cleaning, and heartworm testing.
During the first year, having a pet wellness plan can save pet owners considerable money as puppies and kittens require frequent wellness checks and vaccinations to remain healthy. However, as your pet grows, you’ll likely find visits to the vet less frequent. Nonetheless, a pet wellness plan may still save you money even if you visit the vet just once or twice a year.
If you are a new pet owner, you should consider investing in wellness coverage to help you pay for the frequent vet visits early on in your pet’s life. Even if your pet is older, it can still be beneficial to invest in a wellness plan. For just a small monthly premium, you can continue to receive reimbursements for money spent on routine vet care. You’ll also have peace of mind that your pet is receiving the preventive services he or she needs to stay happy and healthy.