My dog had some pretty massive surgery. Pet insurance did what it was supposed to do.
I will start with the absolute shame I feel: the first thing I said to my veterinarian, as she told me my 125 lb Great Pyrenees rescue, Nemo, likely needed double CCL (cranial cruciate ligament) surgery, was "Fuck, what will that cost me?"
My first thought should have been "How the fuck will get a very sedated 125 lb dog with a sawed on knee up three flights of 23 total stairs?" because, as my veterinarian pointed out: "This is an athletic injury, your insurance should cover it. Go see the specialist."
Slightly prior to adopting puppy Nemo, 4 and a half years ago, I was dating a woman who had suffered greatly for her Dane. Her giant dog had bone cancer and hip dysplasia. While she encouraged me to adopt a giant breed dog, she also cautioned me to get pet health insurance. I did some research and the provider in 2014 that won my business was Trupanion. I also added the PT/Recovery rider to Nemo's insurance. I can not pinpoint why he got that rider, but PRAISE THE FSM! I did not add that rider for my Maine Coon Cat, Heart, or the darling Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Zuul. I bought them both the basic plans.
I was momentarily reassured that I had insurance. I am emotionally unable to not do whatever my pet needs when it comes to medical care. I was also super worried that insurance would fuck with me. Insurance companies exist to fuck with people. I lost a lot of sleep.
We finally saw the specialist in early November. Some x-rays and $1000 later I was told Nemo definitely needed TPLO surgery on both knees. Perhaps some repair to his patellas was also in order, to stop their luxating. We scheduled the surgery, on one leg, for January 2nd as it was the first opening they had. The vet also sent an $8400 estimate for day-of-surgery expenses and care. Said estimate was also sent to my insurance company. I held my breath.
In less than 24 hours Trupanion approved Nemo's surgery as in-policy. My focus now turned to how the fuck I was getting that dog up those stairs. The vet told me Nemo should be able to walk up stairs one day after surgery and not to worry.
We waited the two months. As the weather got colder, Nemo got worse and moving around was clearly uncomfortable. As we got closer to surgery time, he developed hot spots from licking at his knees and I had to get him on antibiotics. We put on the cone of shame. Neems became such a big baby I had to sleep on the floor with him, before the surgery! I was desperate to get this dog on the road to recovery.
Upon picking Nemo up the day after surgery it was readily apparent there was no fucking way said canine was headed up those stairs solo. The vet tech insisted he'd make it. I ended up carrying the dog up the stairs. It was not easy for him or me.
Nemo and I spent the next 10 days sharing his two dog beds. He hasn't been able to get up the stairs to my room in months, and once the skin infection started he would whine and try to nose at his discomfort if not in close proximity to me. His leg is healing wonderfully, and after a few days he was able to stand up under his own power, now he is back to opening the front door and letting himself out whenever he wants. My back gave out. Now we sleep in my daughter's room and she gets the big bed for a while.
Last night I got the final reckoning from the insurance company. They have paid $7008.60 of the $9,073.34 this has cost so far. $2064.74 has been paid by Nemo and I. We are not halfway done! There will be physical therapy, surgery for the other leg, and then more PT. Nemo's next recovery should be easier, but I am not sure the surgery or PT will be cheaper.
We have a $500 deductible that is 'lifetime per event.' I got hit for the luxating patella separately from the CCL repair, even though the one likely caused the other. So I paid $1000 before Trupanion got into the game. Insurance covers 90% of medical service not including examinations after the deductible. If this had been an annual deductible I would have paid $500 in 2018, and $500 in 2019 already. We shall see how they handle his other leg, as that could be another $1000 off the top.
All said and done: this has worked out with Trupanion covering 70-80% of the cost of Nemo's insanely expensive surgery. I expect they cover the same on the other leg identically, and I pay another deductible.
I pay about $65/month for Nemo's insurance. So far he has paid around $3900. Before the next $9000 leg gets operated upon, Nemo is $3100 positive on insurance and expects to be at $10,000+ by years end (with physical therapy covered at 90% as well). If Nemo makes it to 14 years old, I'll only contribute another $7000 or so to insurance. Even if he never needs insurance again he'll still have netted out $3k positive.
14 is pretty damn optimistic.
I am sure I would have worked it out had I been faced with $15K+ of dog medical bills to fend for on my own. Life would be a lot more difficult and honestly, this has gone easier than most of my human medical insurance interactions.
Nemo and I thank you, Trupanion. Soon my buddy will be meandering down the street at his own damn pace again.
I highly recommend researching the various insurance providers and find the one that will meet your needs best. Trupanion has made a real difference for Nemo and I.