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Weathering the Summertime with Your Pets

Posted on: June 5th, 2008 by

Posted by Angela Klein on 6/5/2008 in Articles from Newsletters

Weathering the Good Ol’ Summertime with Your Pets

As spring turns to summer, dogs and cats everywhere are beginning to feel the heat! To help you and your pets get through the summer, we’ve compiled a list of helpful tips to keep your four-legged friends healthy and happy.

You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again. Never, never, never leave your pet in the car, even for just a few minutes. Temperatures in cars can reach 120 degrees quickly when the weather is warm. Because dogs and cats don’t perspire and can only release heat through their paw pads and by panting, pets left in hot cars are at risk for heat exhaustion, heat stroke, brain damage or death.

Another temptation to avoid is putting dogs in the back of pick-up trucks. Flying debris, accidents or even sudden turns or stops all pose threats to dogs left in this vulnerable position. Keep your dog inside or in a secured crate in the bed of the truck.

Plant food, fertilizer and insecticide are all common during the summer but pose another hazard to pets. Be sure to read the directions carefully and keep your pets away from fertilized areas and especially away from bags of fertilizer, insecticide and plant food, which can be fatal if ingested. Watch out, too, for the 700+ varieties of plants that can produce physiologically active or toxic substances that are harmful to your pets.

Check with your veterinarian to see if your pets should be taking heartworm prevention medication. Transmitted by mosquitoes, heartworm disease can be fatal in both dogs and cats.

Other quick reminders for a stress-free summer:

Provide plenty of water and shade for your pets at all times.

Make early preparations for vacation travel whether leaving your pet at home or bringing them with you.

Use flea and tick treatments recommended by your veterinarian.

Limit exercise for older dogs and dogs with thick coats to early morning hours to reduce the risk of heat exhaustion and stroke.

Do your pets a favor and remember that loud events, such as the 4th of July and music concerts, can be stressful for pets.

If your pet starts showing signs of heat exhaustion and/or stroke – heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, unsteadiness, vomiting or a deep red or purple tongue – immediately work to lower his body temperature by applying cool, not cold, water over his body, cold towels or ice packs to your pet’s head, neck and chest only and let him lick ice cubes or drink small amounts of water. Heat exhaustion and stroke can be fatal to your pet, so always remember to check with your veterinarian and when in doubt, visit a hospital immediately.

Have a safe and happy summer!

Supplemental Wellness Care Option

Posted on: June 5th, 2008 by

Posted by Angela Klein on 6/5/2008 in Articles from Newsletters

Supplemental Wellness Care Option Offers Additional Benefits

Wondering if routine care is covered with your accident and illness policy? It is if you choose BestWellness in addition to your plan. BestWellness is optional coverage you can add to your Pets Best Insurance policy that helps you budget for annual exams, teeth cleaning, routine tests and more.

With no deductible and $440 in annual benefits for dogs and more than $500 in annual benefits for cats, BestWellness is specifically chosen by our policyholders who regularly take their pets to the vet.

Half of the annual BestWellness benefits may be claimed within the first six months of each policy period. After six consecutive months as a policyholder, the full 100% of the BestWellness benefit is available for use.

Learn more about BestWellness or call a Pets Best Customer Service Representative today at 1-877-PETSBEST or 1-877-738-7237 to add BestWellness to your policy and help with expenses for future routine visits.

Pet Cancer Foundation

Posted on: June 5th, 2008 by

Posted by Angela Klein on 6/5/2008 in Articles from Newsletters
Lifesaving. How The Pet Cancer Foundation is Working to Help Fight Cancer.

Every year, millions of pets are lost to cancer. Leukemia, lymphoma, bone cancer and mammary gland cancer all claim the lives of our beloved pets.

Many tireless efforts are underway, including the work of the Pet Cancer Foundation, a cooperative venture to help pet owners understand and manage cancer and cancer fears and provide a resource for free initial cancer consultations through a pet owner’s local veterinarian. This resource brings cancer consultation to the pet owner and pet, no matter where they are.

Local veterinarians are also encouraged to visit the Pet Cancer Foundation site www.petcancerfoundation.org to learn how to obtain the free initial consultation from a board-certified veterinary oncologist who will identify what treatments are the most effective for each specific cancer.

Although the Pet Cancer Foundation web site is for pet owners, the consultation can only be provided to a licensed veterinarian. The web site, however, does provide information on cancer in pets for consumers.

Dr. Alice Villalobos, a veterinarian and author who concentrates on cancer and end-of life care, says that this free consultation can be lifesaving.

“All too often, cancer treatments for pets do not happen because of the hassle of taking your pet elsewhere, sometimes requiring driving long distances for specialized treatments that may be needed weekly or even more often,” she says. “With this process, many cancer treatments can be successfully implemented, monitored and adapted by a person’s own veterinarian with the benefit of a cancer specialist assisting in every step.”

In the broader perspective, this initiative was created to keep pets living longer, healthier lives and enable them to bring joy to their families, according to Dr. Jack Stephens, president and founder of Pets Best Insurance. “Our mission at Pets Best is to provide reimbursement for the best pet care possible, which includes cancer treatments.”

The Pet Cancer Foundation is a cooperative venture supported by Pets Best Insurance, Oncura Partners and the Morris Animal Foundation. Last year, Pets Best also pledged $1 million to the Morris Animal Foundation (MAF) Cure Canine Cancer campaign in an effort to eradicate cancer in dogs in the next 10 – 20 years. For this, Dr. Jack Stephens and Pets Best Insurance have been honored and recognized by MAF as a “Canine Cancer Campaign SuperHero,” joining Pfizer Animal Health as the second $1 million contributor to the campaign.

Preventing Managed Care

Posted on: May 21st, 2008 by

Posted by Jack Stephens on 5/21/2008 in Articles from Veterinary Newsletter

THE FEAR FACTOR – PET INSURANCE NEED NOT REPEAT HUMAN HEALTH CARE PRACTICES

We have all heard the medical profession lament the concept of managed care as an intrusion into the way they practice and the way it has taken much of the enjoyment out of practicing medicine. But if one looks back to those early days when decisions were being made, the medical profession basically did not become involved in that decision-making process.

They practiced medicine and left the financing of their services to others. Of course, managed care in the medical field has not been all bad; it has increased access and the level of care to and for more people. Overall, it has been rejected as a concept that has more flaws than benefits. As we look to this model, we have to ask ourselves: What is it that we want and do not want for pets, pet owners, and our profession?

Since 1982, I have railed against managed care principles in pet health insurance. Yet most of my colleagues are still not sure what managed care in veterinary medicine is, other than “setting of fees and taking away decisions.”

In an effort to clarify how to recognize managed care, what to avoid and most of all how the profession can control our destiny, I have devoted this editorial piece to managed care principles, how to avoid them and how pet insurance can benefit pets, pet owners and practices, without managed care ever taking hold. Much more could and will be said on the subject in articles, journals and later newsletters.

As a profession, we can have control of how we practice and avoid the pitfalls that have happened to the medical profession.

PRINCIPLES OF MANAGED CARE – GOOD REASON FOR CAUTION

Historically, managed care involves several key principles that include:

Setting of fees based on procedures, diagnosis and diagnostics
Taking decisions on diagnostics and treatment away from the treating doctor
Limiting choices by both the patient and doctor
Complicating the process with layers of bureaucracy in order to receive payment
Reducing or eliminating the out-of-pocket cost (co-payments and deductibles) to patients, thus eliminating their involvement in the financial decisions for care
Forcing doctors to join networks or accept lower fee schedules in return for higher patient loads
Patients restricted to the level of care provided for in the networks and receive no benefits – or greatly restricted benefits – if care is sought outside the network, except in emergencies
The doctor-patient relationship is virtually eliminated
Doctors in a managed-care environment are not inclined to have a strong doctor-patient relationship. Patients are chosen for them.

Non-managed care physicians and veterinarians, on the other hand, must please their clients. They must communicate, not rush, fully explain options and basically have a good beside or “table side” manner to be successful. If not, clients will go down the street.

In managed care, the patient is forced to visit the network in order to be covered. The patient load is dictated by others, not by experience or quality of care. At the risk of alienating my physician colleagues, the managed care system forces an almost assembly-line mentality to care. Human healthcare hospitals only started becoming more compassionate with better quality of care and services when they had to compete with other hospitals in order to increase profits.

Much more can be stated, but again, no veterinarian with whom I have spoken in over 25 years wanted managed care for our profession that dictates how we deliver care.

SO WHAT DO CLIENTS AND VETERINARIANS WANT?

Clients Want:
To choose their own veterinarian
Insurance that is easy-to-understand and provides high reimbursements
Fast claims payments with no hassle
Comprehensive policies that allow for routine care
Few exclusions/limitations

Veterinarians Want:
Choice: The ability for the client and treating doctor to determine the level of care
Little or no paperwork in filing of claims
No schedule of fees or benefits dictating or implying what to charge
No restrictions on diagnostics; allow the treating doctor to determine what is necessary, based on the situation
Ability for clients to freely choose where to take their pet for care, including specialists
No complicated payment method or restrictions on how care is provided
Freedom to set fees to suit the style and overhead of the practice
No third party dictating the quality of care
No third party overruling treatment decisions of the treating doctor by disallowing or limiting benefits

HOW CAN WE PREVENT MANAGED CARE?
-Don’t join networks, PPOs or other schemes that are predicated on bringing you more clients. Controlling the client’s choice of choosing their pet’s veterinarian must be avoided, as this is the number one tenet of managed care! If we only had one thing to avoid, it would be this.
-Don’t provide discounts to groups for increased business. Keep discounts or free care to your individual choice.
-Set your own fees and avoid fee and benefit schedules. If a large portion of your fees are not reimbursed it makes you look like you are overcharging.
-Don’t accept third parties (companies) telling you how to practice, setting procedures, fees or level of care to provide.
-Don’t recommend companies that do not meet your standards, or restrict care due to the age of the pet.

OUR BRAND & PROMISE
Pets Best Insurance was launched in October 2005, to simplify how pet insurance reimburses pet owners. It was apparent that a straightforward 80% reimbursement of what the veterinarian charged for services was necessary. Veterinary medicine had changed, and changing how pet insurance operates had to happen! The level of care had risen dramatically for pets due to the rapid progression of the human-animal bond, access to specialists, and multiple-doctor practices.

When I first established the category of pet health insurance in 1980, I had three goals. The first was to provide a method for pet owners to have peace of mind; second, the ability to budget for unexpected pet health care cost; and third, to be certain that the managed care principles that so plague human medicine do not take root in our profession.

When I founded Pets Best, some twenty-five years later, I wanted to improve the industry I created and to leave a better legacy of pet insurance as being relevant and advantageous for pets, pet owners and veterinarians.

WHAT MORE CAN YOU DO?
When advising your clients of pet insurance options, make sure to recommend a company that is a member of the newly formed North American Pet Health Insurance Association. (Visit www.naphia.org for more information.) Membership standards disallow the most prominent managed-care principles. Standards are set and enforced for high levels of service, turn-around time on reimbursements, dispute resolution and independent third-party rating of member performance after a claim. For pet insurance to prosper, pet owners must know with clarity and certainty how much pet insurance will cover of the actual veterinary cost.

PET INSURANCE IS HERE TO STAY
Pet Health insurance is now nearing $300 million in annual revenues and forecasted to reach over $1.2 billion by 2012. With all the new, very large and well financed companies now entering the field, it will only grow, because there is a financial need for pet owners who want to afford the increasing cost of unexpected pet accidents, illness or trauma. Attempting to simply ignore this rapid growth of pet insurance will not be a viable response by the veterinary profession if it wishes to avoid the many pitfalls of veterinary managed care.

In closing, the veterinary profession must be involved to guide and influence the pet health insurance industry. If we do, I know I will have left a legacy that truly enhances the delivery of veterinary care for pets.

Jack L. Stephens, DVM
President/Founder
Pets Best Insurance

Spotlight On: The Morris Animal Foundation

Posted on: May 12th, 2008 by

Posted by Angela Klein on 5/12/2008 in Articles from Newsletters

Since 1948, the Morris Animal Foundation has been answering a critical and unique need in promoting animal health and welfare and advancing veterinary medicine. As the largest non-profit organization dedicated to funding research studies to protect, treat and cure animals, including companion animals, nearly 1,400 studies have been conducted to that end.

Last year, the Morris Animal Foundation launched its Cure Canine Cancer campaign to raise funds to help find a cure for cancer in dogs within the next 10 – 20 years.

As part of this effort, Pets Best has pledged a million dollars to their campaign, knowing that millions of dogs each year die of cancer.

“Half the population of dogs and cats aged 10 and over will die of cancer,” said Alice Villalobos, a noted veterinarian and author. “The bonds that clients have developed with their older pets are especially strong and drive the increasing demand for more proficient and highly compassionate medical treatment of companion animals diagnosed with cancer.”

Learn more about The Morris Animal Foundation and their fight to save dogs and their owners from the devastating effects of cancer at www.curecaninecancer.org or learn about all of the MAF initiatives at www.morrisanimalfoundation.org.