How to make vet bills more affordable
If you're a pet owner, chances are you already know how quickly costs can add up when looking after your furry friend. On top of food and grooming, a trip to the vet can set you back quite significantly.
Recent data from Compare the Market shows that just 27% of Australian pet owners surveyed have pet insurance.
Vet bills can easily be in the hundreds or thousands for some treatments and without pet insurance, these pet owners would be left to foot the bill completely out of their own pocket.
Thankfully, a range of affordable healthcare options have been rolled out in recent times, which can keep your furry friend and hip pocket happy. While these aren't a replacement for in-person vet visits, they can give you greater options when caring for your pet.
They couldn't come at a better time, given that Australians continue to battle the cost-of-living crisis.
Dial A Vet
One of the latest options for Australian pet owners is Dial A Vet, an online service that provides unlimited video consultations for $25 a month.
The service features more than 250 licensed veterinarians and nurses who can offer advice and discuss treatment options over the phone at any time of the day or night. Up to six pets can be added to an account, which can be beneficial if you have multiple animals.
You simply download the app to your smartphone, subscribe and you're ready to go. However, it should be noted that you'll still need to visit a vet in person for vaccinations and treatment and you should head to a vet immediately if your pet is in life-threatening danger.
Unlike Dial A Vet, which is a subscription service, WebVet is another option for pet owners who may need urgent, one-off assistance via a video call.
You can receive advice and assistance with your pet's medical condition from as little as $45 per consultation, which can be significantly less than an in-person vet visit. Vets are available online 24/7, but you may pay a higher price on public holidays, weekends or overnight.
However, it could be a handy option if your local vet is closed or you need general health advice for your pet in a hurry.
If you're looking for pet insurance for your pet, you may want to consider an insurer that offers GapOnly - a service where participating pet insurance providers and vet clinics enable same-day claims processing at the clinic.
Essentially, pet owners can claim on the spot and only pay the difference between what's covered on their pet insurance policy and the vet's invoice, known as the gap.
For other pet insurance policies, you usually pay the total amount, then lodge a claim with your insurer and wait for the claim to be processed. The insurer will deduct any policy excess and apply the policy's benefit percentage to determine how much you will be reimbursed.
GapOnly eliminates this process, meaning you're not waiting around for days, weeks or even months for a claim to be processed and for some of your money to be returned.
While GapOnly doesn't cost anything extra, it's worth noting that it's only available with some insurance partners, including RSPCA, Australian Seniors, Guardian, Real Insurance, Prime Pet Insurance and Guide Dogs Pet Insurance.
Healthy Pets Plus
Healthy Pets Plus is a program available through Greencross Vets, which boasts an array of perks for pet owners.
For $45 a month on an annual plan, pet owners can receive unlimited veterinary consultations at Greencross Vets, free vaccinations and microchipping, discounted emergency consultations at selected emergency partner hospitals at specified times and more.
As well as the in-person consultations, the Healthy Pets Plus membership offers wellness screenings, free access to WebVet video advice, discounts on some treatments and more.
Types of pet insurance
Unless you can afford a large emergency pet bill upfront or fork out thousands of dollars for your pet's treatment, it could also be worth considering pet insurance. Vet consultations can cost anywhere from $100 to $300, and that's before any treatment or surgery.
Pet insurance itself can be expensive, but you typically have the option of purchasing products that cover only a limited number of specific accidents and some illnesses or purchasing products that cover a very wide range of accidents and illnesses.
Some policies also allow you to add optional cover for dental bills, routine care and even cover for behavioural problems.
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