Does Pet Insurance Cover Hip Dysplasia?
In an attempt to provide their pets with better medical care, more pet owners than ever before are purchasing pet insurance. Pet owners can purchase pet insurance for both cats and dogs. While pet insurance doesn’t typically cover routine wellness checks, it does cover most emergency care and serious illnesses or injuries. There are often some exclusions or things that they will not cover, such as pre-existing conditions. One condition that often has pet owners concerned is hip dysplasia and if it’s a covered expense.
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About Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is considered one of the most serious orthopedic diseases. Hip dysplasia is most common in large dogs like German Shepherds, Collies, Rottweilers, St. Bernards and retrievers to name a few. It’s also somewhat common in smaller dogs and even with cats. Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease, which means it is inherited from the parents of someone else in the breed line.
Hip dysplasia occurs when the acetabulum (pelvis’s hip socket) and femoral head (the ball part of the femur) are not properly aligned and cannot provide the pet with the smooth movement required for a lifetime of normal use. Hip dysplasia is an expensive and painful disease that may involve both hips or just one hip.
One of the worst things about this crippling disease is that the owner may not know the dog has hip dysplasia until serious symptoms arise and the dog is in severe pain and discomfort. A dog may be diagnosed with hip dysplasia at only a couple of months of age or may not display any symptoms until middle age or older.
However, of the animals that have the genes for hip dysplasia, 95% of them will show evidence through X-rays by the time they’re two years old. What the X-ray won’t show is the severity of the disease or when the dog will begin having symptoms.
Pet insurance companies that cover hip dysplasia
Treatment for hip dysplasia can involve surgical and non-surgical measures, but surgery is generally the most effective and most recommended. The most common surgery for hip dysplasia is hip replacement. Nonsurgical treatment may include femoral head osteotomy or triple pelvic osteotomy as well as diet management and supplements.
For hip replacement surgery, the cost might be from $7000 to $12,000 or more. Even the non-surgical treatments can cost up to $3,000 or more per hip. A big concern of pet owners of animals prone to hip dysplasia is if their pet insurance will cover the medical expenses for this disease.
This is not a black and white question, and the answer is that it depends on the insurance company and the time at which the dog was diagnosed with hip dysplasia. Every pet insurance company has their own rules regarding covered and not covered expenses, and pre-existing clause determines more than anything else if the dog’s medical expenses are covered by insurance.
Although each pet insurance company will vary with their deductible and co-payment amounts, here is a list of some pet insurance companies that will pay for hip dysplasia.
- Healthy Paws
- Pets Best
- Pets Plus US
Additionally, a policy may only pay a certain amount for hip dysplasia-related costs. Pet owners purchasing pet insurance should be sure to ask questions and read the fine print so they can see in black and white exactly what the company will pay.
Hip dysplasia as a pre-existing condition
Unfortunately, there really isn’t any pet insurance company that will pay for a pre-existing condition, and hip dysplasia is often diagnosed as a pre-existing condition. The question is – just when is it considered a pre-existing condition? In one scenario, you purchase pet insurance for your German Shepherd when he’s two years old, and a physical exam indicates he’s a healthy dog.
At the age of four, your dog is diagnosed with hip dysplasia. In this situation, the hip dysplasia was not a pre-existing condition because the condition did not exist in the dog when you purchased the policy. If your dog was previously diagnosed with hip dysplasia before you purchased pet insurance, the insurance company won’t pay for medical expenses related to hip dysplasia because the dog had the disease before you purchased the insurance. In some cases, pet insurance won’t cover any other hips once there has been a problem in one. Check with your policy to make sure this is not the case if you have a breed prone to these conditions.
It cannot be stated enough that potential customers should read the fine print, especially if they have a dog that’s prone to developing hip dysplasia. Pet insurance can be a real Godsend and often the difference between being able to provide your dog with proper medical care or not being able to.