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Pet insurance could get a boost from AVMA

The House of Delegates will consider a resolution calling on veterinary teams to educate clients about health coverage.

Pet insurance could get a boost from AVMA

Veterinary clients might learn a lot more about pet health insurance if the AVMA House of Delegates approves a resolution at the panel’s summer meeting.

An update to a longstanding American Veterinary Medical Association policy would encourage veterinary practices to proactively educate clients about the existence of pet insurance.

Today, some practices do little or no marketing of pet insurance while others promote it extensively as a means of cutting client costs and helping to ensure optimal patient health. According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, an industry trade group, almost 2.2 million U.S. cats and dogs had coverage in 2018, an 18% one-year rise.

Resolution 7 keeps the current AVMA policy in place but adds a line about educating clients. The policy “endorses the concept of pet health insurance” and states that insurance policies should require a veterinarian-client-patient relationship and “never interfere with the veterinarian’s rate structures.”

The resolution followed a review by the AVMA Council on Veterinary Science at the request of the Veterinary Economic Strategy Committee.

“After discussion between the two entities, the policy was revised to note that [the] ‘veterinary health care team’ should make clients aware of the existence of health insurance,” a statement about the resolution notes.

Brakke Consulting senior consultant John Volk assisted NAPHIA during talks with the AVMA.

“Following the completion of … NAPHIA and AVMA studies, both of which showed a positive impact of pet health insurance on demand for veterinary services, NAPHIA worked with AVMA to update its policy on pet health insurance to make it more proactive,” he said.

“Resolution 7 was the result, a relatively minor but important modification of the existing AVMA policy. The wording has gone through a few iterations over the course of several meetings and the involvement of multiple committees.

“I hope it passes. It is consistent with the attitudes of a majority of practitioners, and is in the best interests of both veterinarians and their clients.”

Steve Shell, chairman of NAPHIA’s Veterinary Relations Working Group and vice president of veterinary channel development at Petplan, acknowledged that most clients don’t know that pet insurance exists.

“It is important for veterinary practice teams to proactively inform clients, especially clients with puppies, kittens and newly adopted pets, about pet health insurance as an important financial tool to help them afford the best care their hospital can provide and that their clients and patients deserve,” Shell said. “Then practices can refer clients directly to all the pet health insurance providers their staff and clients have good experiences with.

“Clients can choose the policy that best fits their individual budget and their pet’s medical needs.”

Kristen Lynch, NAPHIA’s executive director, called Resolution 7 “an important opportunity for AVMA to help members and their hospital teams become better advocates for pet health insurance with their clients.”

The House of Delegates will meet in August at the AVMA Convention in Washington, D.C.

Ken Niedziela is editor of Today’s Veterinary Business. Email him at kniedziela@NAVC.com.

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