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Pet Insurance

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Hey everyone! I’m back. The budget is still a work in progress (bad debt blogger!), but I am on vacation and haven’t opened a computer since Friday. Today, I decided to talk about something else weighing on my financial mind. Pet insurance is another good example of how emotion plays in to financial decision making. Additionally, enjoy some photos of Rosie swimming yesterday! 🙂

The increasing cost of pet ownership

I received a note from my dog’s insurance company that her deductible is going up to $500 a year (from its current $300), because that’s the rate for dogs 5-10 years old. Her monthly premium is also going up to $60, from $54. I’ve shopped around, and this is the best plan I can find for our needs. This is a competitive rate for a large breed middle-aged dog who hasn’t been insured since puppyhood.

I struggle with the monthly cost, which feels like a waste. We didn’t meet the $300 mark this year (her submittable bills were $180), so I haven’t been reimbursed a cent for vet visits in 2019. However, the $60/month isn’t a hardship for me, and I don’t have savings for my dog’s care. If she was sick or injured and needed a few thousands dollars of vet care tomorrow, I’d put that on my credit card in a heartbeat. I know that isn’t smart for me financially, and that’s why I have insurance. This plan covers her medical bills up to 90%.

Based on her age and borderline giant size, she will almost certainly be having hip or leg issues soon. Many dogs at her size and activity level tear their ACL at some point, which can be a $10k injury. I wouldn’t put that on my credit card. I’d never pay that off. But putting my dog down because of a torn ACL would cause me profound guilt and grief. That’s how I am justifying this ridiculous insurance cost right now.

Details of the plan

Rosie’s plan includes 90% of her medical bills covered up to $30k once the deductible is met. She also gets $300/year of dental work with no deductible or co-pay, fully covered euthanasia and cremation/burial costs, and some other benefits. Skin lumps, cancerous or not, will not be covered because they were a pre-existing condition. I am going to call the insurance company to try and get the rate lowered (hey, it’s worth a shot). I’ll also ask them for tips on how to make the most of the plan. The vet says she doesn’t need dental work, so we can’t even use that benefit. Her teeth are perfect from eating raw meaty bones!

Would I get pet insurance again?

My next dog will have a savings fund before I even adopt the dog. I’ll tuck away $150/month for their care. But for Rosie, I don’t have that option and I don’t want to end up in the hole if she gets sick. I hate seeing the monthly fee for the insurance on the credit card statement, but I can’t save aggressively enough for full medical care.

She’s my family. Not everyone will understand that, but I know most of you do, and I love you all for that.

We are using Pet Secure. I think we have the best plan, but I’d love to hear from readers who have experiences with other pet insurance plans. How do you make sure your pet is covered in case of emergency, while also protecting yourself financially? How do I make the right decisions going forward, having made some mistakes with pet care in the past?


Finally on Vacation!

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This post is written from day one of my vacation and I have some quick updates for you!

Vacation Pushed

I was in tears Friday when I learned I wouldn’t be able to go on vacation Monday. The world of software and the nature of my role means that at certain times, my time is not my own. Most of the year, I can make my own schedule, and I’m grateful for that. However, when we have a big software release, everything is suspended until all the code passes the tests. I am not a programmer, but I led a project starting in May that had to do with migrating old code to a new standard, and every week or two, I’d push that code to the client’s instance of our platform. These are some of the biggest banks and industry-leading companies in the world, and the stakes were really high.

The new software release couldn’t go out until all the clients were migrated to this new standard, and we had last minute issues. I finished Wednesday night and declared myself on vacation! I’m off until the 24th. I worked 41 hours Monday to Wednesday and I can’t wait to get out of the city and relax!

Surgery Booked

My hand surgery is next Friday the 20th. As I mentioned, my surgeon this time around is the head of the hand clinic at a prestigious hospital, and he’s also the head professor of the hand surgery program at the best university around here. I’m pretty nervous, as this is the second surgery on my index finger nerve tumor. The pain is unbearable for about an hour a day, and I’m over the moon to think this is almost over. I’m looking in to accessibility options for my Macs – anyone have cool tips for dictation apps or tricks for configuring my Mac to be more accessible while my hand is healing?

Surgery 2017

A collage of the last time I had this procedure done in 2017. They didn’t get the whole tumor then.

Quick Note on the Cost of Medical Care

My time off doesn’t count towards vacation or sick time, thankfully (my company is generous), and I won’t have a cent to pay towards any appointments or medication. I want to take a moment to address that, because it’s the biggest difference between being in Canada and being in the US. Did I tell you that I worked in North Carolina in 2012? I worked in Winston-Salem and lived in Greensboro, and I loved it so much. Southern hospitality is a beautiful thing! The mountains and scenery were stunning, the weather was downright nice all year, and the cost of living BLEW MY MIND.

I was paid my Canadian salary at the time and I lived like a king on $48k USD. The one thing that was difficult was understanding which doctors were in my network, and learning that I had to specify brands or generic meds with the doctor, lest I be faced with a huge bill at the pharmacy. Even when I saw in-network doctors, I still had co-pays and complicated bills to verify.

The Politics

I have respect for Hope bringing up the minimum wage discussion in July. It’s tricky to talk about money without sometimes stumbling into something political. Here are the facts: I feel lucky, because I will make about 90k this year, and I will be taxed 20.5% on that. Here’s an article that compares taxes across some western nations. That isn’t a lot of tax in my mind (mind you, I spent some formative years in Norway, so I’m bit biased towards effective social programs). To never have to worry about paying for my healthcare, I’d happily pay more in taxes. The federal election is coming up and some parties are discussing national pharmacare and dental programs. I’m all for that (currently, most people are covered for pharmaceuticals and dental through their work health insurance or through a social program if they don’t work).

I’ve had four surgeries and never waited more than a few weeks for the surgery, except in this case in which I elected to wait for the best surgeon. I could have had this surgery done a few months ago at the hospital down the road. It irks me when I see US politicians saying Canadians pay such high taxes and wait years for surgeries. It just isn’t true unless you’re in the middle of nowhere without access to big hospitals (in many cases, our healthcare programs will pay to fly you to a major city).

I have a lot of respect for Americans and I understand your healthcare issues are complicated and difficult to solve. I’m not judging anyone for feeling one way or another.

What’s next?

Today is the first day of vacation, and I had three appointments. I’m about to head to a concert (my best friend won tickets to see Of Monsters and Men on the radio). Tomorrow I have a ton of chores to do before I head out of the city. I’m planning on making a post schedule for the rest of the month and taking another crack at a long-term budget tracking system.

Quick updates: 

  • I’ll share my budget for Sept 13 pay period on Monday. Thanks to readers for recommending pen and paper. I’m overwhelmed at the moment and need to get back to basics
  • I applied for the TD line of credit. Fingers crossed – this will pay off my credit cards!
  • The boarder is moving out this weekend. The $450 he paid me will go to credit card debt.
  • I’ve been going to the gym and I feel a bit stronger. I’m sleeping better, too.

I am still not great with spending. I had three restaurant meals in the past two weeks, cheap but unplanned. Could I be doing better? Of course.