Pet health care insurance can be a confusing topic, so many pet parents have questions about how, exactly, pet insurance works. Although there are some similarities between pet insurance and human health insurance, the systems are fundamentally different and do not often overlap. Here is a helpful breakdown of all the ins and outs:
Is Pet Insurance Like a PPO or HMO?
Unlike health insurance for people, pet insurance does not operate like a preferred provider organization (PPO) or a health maintenance organization (HMO). This means that pet insurance does not operate on the basis of networks and preferred providers. Pet parents with pet insurance can choose their veterinarian of choice without worrying about whether that vet is in or out of network.
That is because unlike human health insurance, pet insurance offers an agreement between the pet parent and the insurance company, rather than a contract between the insurance company and health care providers, which is the case in a PPO. This agreement offers significantly more freedom, broader coverage and none of the frustrations of the managed care model.
What is “Managed Care”?
Managed care is the system used by human health insurance networks that operate on the PPO or HMO basis. Part of the reason that pet insurance policies are often so effective is that they do not subscribe to the managed care model.
Managed care requires health care providers to join a network that dictates lower fees charged for the patients within that network. This, in turn, limits the patient’s choice of health care provider and results in higher expenses if the patient opts to go to an “out-of-network” provider.
How Else Does Pet Insurance Differ?
Pet insurance is different than human health insurance in that it allows pet parents and their animals significantly more freedom in their choices of provider and care options. Pet parents pay an insurance premium, which allows them to go to any veterinarian of their choosing and enjoy fast payments for coverage.
Additionally, the lack of a managed care model within pet insurance allows vets to dictate the level of care they provide their patients without the intrusion of an insurance policy looking over their shoulders.
In many ways, the pet insurance system functions better than the human health insurance system thanks to the fact that it does not operate like a PPO or HMO. Pet owners are free from the restraints of a health care network and can enjoy the freedom of going to any veterinarian for any reason, at any time and still having their claims paid. Additionally, pet insurance allows individual veterinary practices to determine their fees, which in turn allows for better care and less interference from insurance companies.
Pet Insurance Providers
Wondering where to start your search for pet insurance? Try comparing quotes from a few of these companies that we have reviewed. Please remember to do your own research; search online and talk with fellow pet parents and your vet. The more that you know, the better you will do in getting the best coverage.