The rising cost of healthcare for pets and for people

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We all know health insurance is a hot topic — it costs (literally) trillions of dollars and it dominates almost every news cycle. But why is it such a challenging issue to tackle?

As it turns out, if we look at our furry friends and the world of pet insurance, there are some good insights. Healthcare for people costs 3.2 trillion dollars per year and outpaces the US economy. That’s a lot compared to the 15 billion we spend annually on our pets. But, costs for both are growing at an alarming rate.

Here are two triggers that help explain the complexity and rising costs:

Increase in technology: with healthcare becoming more sophisticated, with more options, it also becomes more expensive. Only 1% of pets have insurance versus 90% of people. While routine care for a young healthy pet may be only $200 per year, an owner of an older pet can be faced with a $10,000 cancer treatment. That’s a lot to cover without insurance.

Emotions surrounding end of life care: We take heroic measures to care for our loved ones at the end of their lives. 28% of Medicare is spent on the last 6 months of a person’s life. And we care for pets as we would a family member. This may explain the increase in companies, like Microsoft, offering pet insurance as a benefit to their employees.

As more people purchase healthcare for their beloved pets, expect to see some of the same challenges we’re seeing in the human healthcare area.

To read more, please see the NYT article from earlier this year.

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