Pet Insurance – Such a Scam

As you may know, my precious little Obi has been suffering from CHF (Congestive Heart Failure).  I wrote about his symptoms back in February, and detailed how this came about in my blog entitled Anticipating the End.  I am happy to say as of right now, he is doing quite well.  I am very thankful that for the most part, even at 9 years old, he acts like a puppy, and you would never know he has a medical problem.

At the time this started, I was thankful that I had purchased Nationwide Pet Insurance through my employer.  After all, it seemed to be useful a few years back when we had a tumor removed from his leg, after which he proceeded to open his stitches up twice over a holiday weekend, forcing us to the vet multiple times.  The tumor turned out to be benign by the way.  After that incident, there were a few times that I contemplated the need for paying the high cost of having this insurance.  After all, premiums of $76.08 per month add up to a whopping $912.96 for a year!  And it seems that I am never reimbursed an amount equal to what I have paid in premiums – or even equal to my complete vet expenses!  In all actually, it seems that more times than not, my claims were denied for some frivolous reason.  So I started to think about cancelling this insurance just a month prior to learning of Obi’s CHF, but for some reason, I did not.  And, as I said, when I learned he had CHF, knowing that he would have to go through several expensive tests and possible future treatments, I was relieved that I still had the insurance.  But then the insurance hassles began.

From the initial onset of his disease, I was very prompt in submitting my insurance claims for reimbursement.  Nationwide Pet Insurance, however, has been anything but prompt in the processing of my claims.  In most cases, they are quick to deny.  Below I am going to share with you how ridiculous having pet insurance is, in the hopes of saving anyone else the trouble of taking on this monthly bill.  Instead, it would be much more cost-effective to just put money aside every month for possible vet expenses; a better alternative to throwing your hard-earned money away to this company.

Included  Charge  Amount Reimbursed  Reimbursement Pending
12/14/2016 Vet visit – Annual vaccinations, Skin test for hair loss (initial CHF problem??)  $                   196.96  $            51.50
12/29/2016 12/14 visit denied due to lack of diagnosis
12/30/2017 12/14 claim resubmitted claim with diagnosis
1/11/2017 12/14 claim denied again – waiting for diagnosis
1/12/2017 Diagnosis for 12/14 claim submitted again
1/25/2017 Vet visit – Radiographs Series & Interpretation, Salix Injection, Salix Tablets, Benazepril Tablets, Vetmedin Pill  $                    325.17
1/31/2017 12/14 claim denied stating “behavior modification”
1/31/2017 Phone call arguing 12/14 claim and the fact that my dog does not have a behavioral problem, he has a heart problem – they want a new diagnosis
2/1/2017 Resubmitted 12/14 claim with new diagnosis of dilated Cardiomyopathy
2/1/2017 Vet visit – ultrasound of Obi’s heart  $                  260.00  Denied
2/2/2017 Received letter requesting Vet Records
2/3/2017 Requested update on status of 12/14 claim – no response
2/3/2017 Unable to read vet records – 1/25 claim denied again
2/3/2017 Requested update on status of 1/25 claim
2/8/2017 Resubmitted 12/14 claim with new diagnosis again
2/21/2017 Vet records sent a second time  for 1/25 visit
2/24/2017 Refill of Medication  $                   145.62  Denied
2/28/2017 Letter denying ultrasound from 2/1
3/3/2017 Received letter stating only part of 12/14 claim will be reimbursed  $             128.57
3/3/2017 Received letter stating only part of 1/25 visit will be reimbursed for Cardiomyopathy, but won’t cover CHF  $             275.00
 $                  927.75  $          51.50  $            403.57
 Expenses since 12/16  Reimbursed  Pending

As you can see, No matter how much my vet bills will amount to, having these ridiculous caps on each disease or illness, I will never recoup the cost of my yearly premiums ($912.96).  So take a tip from me, don’t buy pet insurance, at least not from Nationwide (although I don’t expect any other company would be any better!).  Save that money instead! If you are lucky, you will never need it, and if you do, you just may come out ahead paying cash to the vet instead of paying it to an insurance company that won’t reimburse!

 

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Jack

We used to have a puppy named Jack. For some reason I feel compelled to write about him today, even though as I write this I can feel all the sad emotions coming back.

Jack was a lovable doberman puppy that we received free from a friend who got him from an acquaintance. This acquaintance was supposedly a breeder, who was leaving the country so he had to give this four or five-month-old puppy up. We received Jack not knowing his exact age, either because my friend didn’t ask specific enough questions or because the breeder wasn’t a very good breeder. I am going with the latter. Why? Because we were told Jack was neutered, had all his shots and was dewormed. When we got poor, frightened little Jack, not only did we find out he wasn’t neutered or dewormed (and probably didn’t have all his shots), but he was afraid of people. Not a good sign. A well loved puppy should be playful and love people. He also did not look very healthy.

We cared for Jack and fell in love with him. He remained people shy, but my girls could lay on him and do whatever they wanted to dear lovable Jack and he would let them. He loved them back. Dobermans have been mislabeled as viscous dogs due to inaccurate portrayals in film and TV. In fact, Virginia was so obsessed with Jack that she read book after book on Dobermans and we learned the true loyal, faithful, tolerant nature that these magnificent creatures have for “their pack” (us). They are true “Family” dogs. They would lay down their life for their family. Perhaps this is where their bad reputation stems from.

We had a little over a wonderful year with Jack. However, we did notice that as he lay in bed with my husband and I at night that he would let out tiny, little whimpers.

The last week in March, 2008, Jack started throwing up. He couldn’t keep down any food or water. On April 1, 2008, my husband took Jack to the vet. After x-rays, we were told he had a blockage and they had to operate. My husband had to take an exam, and I had to work, so we left Jack at the vet. Sometime around mid-morning I received a phone call from the vet. Jack did not have a blockage at all. When they opened him up, they discovered that what appeared on the x-rays as a blockage were really cancerous lesions that ran throughout his intestines. Most likely pancreatic cancer, we were told. Like cancer in children, it is rare for a puppy to have it, but it can still happen. As tears welled in my eyes and I tried to maintain my composure sitting in my office, I listened as the vet told me that they could not, in good conscience, bring him out of anesthesia and let him live what they feel would be a very painful, and still relatively short life. They asked for permission to put him down. Facing this question, I realized just how much Jack meant to me. I couldn’t make that choice without speaking with my husband first. I asked them to hold on until we could get there. I left message after message for my husband to call me. He finally finished his exam and called, and I had him pick me up immediately.

We drove as quickly as we could to the vet’s office – as a person may if they were rushing to the ER for a loved one. We were rushing for a loved one. When we got to the vet’s office, there lay my sweet adorable puppy on the operating table. The vet offered to show us the lesions. I could not look, but for peace of mind, my husband did. He agreed – they were too bad for any operation. We had to let him go. At that moment, I cried like I’ve never cried before. This was the hardest day of my life. But it was about to get harder. I had to go home and tell my two young children that the dog they loved so dearly wasn’t coming home from the vet.

At this point, Virginia and Klara didn’t even know that Jack needed an operation. They only knew he went to the vet because he kept throwing up. We picked them up from school without saying anything. When we got home, we were immediately confronted with their curiosity on Jack’s whereabouts. As we broke the news, I watched as Virginia’s world caved in around her. Klara understood, and did cry, but in a somber tone, she said “April Fool”. It was April Fool’s Day – how ironic. Sadly, she knew it wasn’t an April fool. “Baby, I wish it were an April Fool,” I said as we all cried together.

It was a hard day for all of us, but the hardest on Virginia, whose tears went well into the night. But, as the saying goes, life goes on. We participated in regular little rituals…..every time we went out to a restaurant that offered the kids balloons, they would take the balloon outside and release it up to Heaven for Jack. We slowly were able to let Jack go. The biggest healing moment came the following following school year, when Virginia had the opportunity to publish a book in the 3rd Grade. In her book she wrote about Jack and his final days. Great, I was destined to relive one of the hardest moments of my life forever, immortalized through a book. But she used a wonderfully creative outlet to finally let go of her pain.

We miss you Jack.