Hospice: The Last Hope

Should pet insurance companies cover hospice care for their clients?


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At the last big conference I attended, I spent some time meandering through the exhibit hall and seeing what was new out there in the veterinary profession. I couldn’t help but notice that there were MANY more companies offering pet insurance than I’d ever seen before, and the policies for each were quite different from the others. I quizzed the representatives about some of my major questions regarding genetic/breed inherited problems, discount for veterinary professionals and claims coverage.

A colleague of mine was along, and she was asking about coverage for claims regarding hospice care, as there are insurance companies out there that will not cover hospice services. She received an affirmative answer from a few, meaning they would cover this type of care. But one of the representatives (whose company name will go unmentioned) said that they only pay for hospice services up until the time when a veterinarian recommends euthanasia; so nothing pays beyond the time that statement is issued. In fact, there has to be a written statement from the veterinarian saying that euthanasia is recommended.

This made absolutely no sense to me, and if you and/or your practice are looking at pet insurance companies, it’s something to keep in mind as end-of-life and hospice/palliative care becomes more the trend for today’s pet owners. In the basic sense, hospice IS what should be offered once treatment and cure is no longer being sought, so technically, when euthanasia (or unassisted death) is eminent. This is when keeping the pet comfortable and pain-free is the objective, and this care is not always cheap. Also, when would you ever ask your veterinarian for a statement regarding their recommendation to euthanize? I’ve certainly heard of releasing a patient "against the advice” of the veterinarian, but this is a different type of statement altogether.

It was confusing, and a bit disheartening. I’ve had pets who have needed care after a point in time when others may have chosen euthanasia; does that mean I am spending money unnecessarily, and so an insurance company should not be required to pay my claim for these expenses? Is my pet’s end of life period less precious to me than the years before that? Not at all. Any extra week, day, and moment is a blessing, and money should be no object particularly if I’ve invested in pet insurance.

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Something to think about…but you need to know what questions to ask so you know just what to think about along the way.

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