Today, almost two-thirds of Americans own at least one pet. Pets offer an increased sense of wellness as well as emotional and physical benefits. Whether it’s our running buddy, our child’s best friend, or our lap warmer as we watch a movie on the couch, our pets help us enjoy life more. Unfortunately, though, for the rising number of pet owners, this joy also comes with costs for veterinary care that continue to increase.
In fall 2016, we launched a new pet insurance benefit partnership with Nationwide. “We listened to the increasing requests for this program and are excited to be offering the new pet insurance benefit for our employees,” says Neal Evans, Director of Stanford Benefits. “We know for many of our faculty and staff that pets are family too, and the university is committed to providing benefits that support our diverse workforce and those they care for.”
The offering is available now to benefits-eligible Stanford employees, and new members can enroll at any time. Visit the Pet Insurance benefit page for more information. The benefit offers discounts on two types of plans, the Pet Wellness Plan which covers wellness and prevention services, and the Major Medical Plan, for accidents, emergencies, and hospitalizations. Employees can bundle the two plans together for an additional discount and receive coverage for both the routine and surprise costs of being a pet owner. Employees who have multiple pets may qualify for discounts of up to 15%.
Diane Wade, Office Manager for Energy Resources Engineering and her husband, Jeff, Network and Systems Security Manager, KIPAC-HEPL, are both employees at Stanford and take advantage of the bundled plans for their young German Shepherd, Ami (short for Amadeus). “Ami just turned two in December, and she is an active girl,” says Diane, “We use the Pet Wellness Plan to cover her vaccinations, physical exams, heart worm test, flea medicine, as well as her nail trim -- all of which really add up to offset the cost of adding the Major Medical plan.”
The savings can really add up. According to a survey by the American Pet Products Association (APPA), expenses for dog and cat owners for routine vet and surgical visits can exceed $500 per year. As pet owners take better care of their pets, and their lifespans stretch longer, costs for extra years of routine pet care and specialized “elder” pet care add to the financial burden of caring for our furry friends.
Abbey Hamilton, Administrative Assistant in the School of Medicine, previously worked in the veterinary field for 11 years before joining Stanford. “I would constantly encourage my clients to get coverage for their pet’s major medical illnesses and injuries,” she said. “You just never know when your pet will get sick or hurt, and that’s when it can get really expensive.” Abbey gave the example of the time her previous dog, Bonzo, got out of the yard while she was at work. After hours of searching, they found him with a broken leg. The casts, splints and follow up appointments added up to close to $2,000, but with her insurance benefit at the time, she was reimbursed for the majority of the veterinary costs.
Diane and Abbey agree that their Pet Insurance plan offers them peace of mind that they are covered when the unexpected happens. Abbey compares this sense of security to having health insurance for her family, and is happy that Stanford includes her pets in its benefits offerings. “My pets are members of my family. Just like Stanford covers our spouses and children, they are taking care of our furry family too.”