There is a good chance that if you have entered a veterinary clinic in the past few years then you may have been offered membership to a Pet Health Plan. Their adoption across the veterinary section has become widespread. Though each practice’s plan is slightly different in terms of what they offer and their prices, the principle of them is the same. Vets are not alone, as these sorts of schemes are found within other health sectors such as private dental care.
If you are interested in what benefits it could provide you and your pet, or if you came away from the vet sceptical at the product you were being sold, or maybe you signed up in a moment of panic and need more information, then read on. We have summarised what they are, what they aren’t, and if they are worth the money you might expect to pay.
Table of contents
What is it?
Many vets offer their clients the option of joining a Pet Health Plan. Fundamentally they are a subscription service where an owner pays a monthly fee by direct debit. Or in some cases the total yearly sum.
The subscription will then cover routine (non-emergency) veterinary treatments outlined specifically in the individual care plan offered by your vet. The selling point is that it allows you to spread the annual costs of routine veterinary care such as vaccinations and flea treatments. Whilst rewarding your loyalty with discounts and other perks.
What does it cover?
Pet Health Plans vary, so speak to your vet regarding exactly what is and isn’t covered. As they say, always read the small print! However, typically payments into most Pet Health Plans will cover routine treatments such as:
- Veterinary licensed flea and other parasite products
- Veterinary licensed worming treatments
- Nail clipping visits
- Anal gland expression visits
Some plans will also include a set number of health checks with your vet per year. And discounts off other veterinary treatments including dentistry, neutering, medications, and diagnostics such as blood tests.
Is this the same as insurance?
This is NOT the same as pet insurance.
It is important not to confuse a Pet Health Plan offered by your vet clinic with a medical pet health insurance policy. People do mix the two up and then find themselves in a bit of a pickle. It is therefore wise to be aware of the difference between these two often similar-sounding products and to know exactly what cover you have. A Pet Health Plan covers only routine veterinary treatment as mentioned above. Though some practices may give Pet Health Plan members a small discount off consults and diagnostics for unplanned visits.
Pet insurance on the other hand is used typically only when your pet becomes unwell or is involved in an accident. It typically covers some or all the costs towards unexpected veterinary bills (for example if your dog gets an ear infection or your cat is hit by a car). However, insurance policies typically do not cover routine veterinary care or preventative products (flea/worming treatments). Pet insurance policies are usually sold through insurance companies rather than your vets. Though some vets do offer 4 weeks of complementary insurance on behalf of companies like Petplan at puppy and kitten first visits.
Note – There is nothing to prevent you from having pet insurance and being enrolled on a Pet Health Plan.
Is it worth the money?
If you take advantage of all the benefits of a Pet Health Plan, they can work out very good value and save you money. In comparison to if you were paying individually for vaccinations and veterinary licensed flea and worming treatments. Or having regular visits for nail clips and anal gland expressions.
Pet Health Plans also provide a regular reminder of when routine treatment is due (including flea/worming and vaccinations). Which can often be accidentally forgotten. Ensuring you are up to date with preventative health care can save you money in the long run. By reducing the likelihood of your pet developing certain preventable conditions. And reduces the chance of having to pay for restart vaccination courses.
However, whether or not you will benefit sometimes depends on how often you will take your pet to the clinic. If your pet only attends the clinic once a year for its vaccinations and you do not take advantage of the other discount benefits of the scheme such as preventive products, nail clips, etc, you may not see any savings. It is best to do the maths and speak to your vet to see if it would benefit you.