Cats and Dogs

Cats and Dogs
Gray Easterling

According to an article in the May, 2011 edition of Benefits Selling, there are about 170 million cats and dogs in this country and about 100 million are pets. Sixty percent of households have at least one pet. As you might expect, pet insurance is a booming business right now. Here’s why. There are more pets and, according to this article, more couples are making the decision not to have children or wait longer to start a family. In the meantime, pets take the place of children. Empty nesters also account for the pet population; when the kids leave home, they want company and pets fill the void. Also, pet owners are more “dedicated” to their pets and want to be sure that they can afford the medical care that their pets might need. More and more people are aware of the existence and availability of pet insurance.  In some cases, it is an optional coverage included in employee benefit packages. Another reason for the increased interest in this product is the rising cost of veterinary care. The author noted that $13 billion was spent on vet care in 2010. Major procedures for a pet can run $3,000-$4,000 and more due to the new treatments that are available now that did not exist just a few short years ago. Pet insurance has improved its image, gaining credibility in the marketplace. If you are interested in this product, here’s some advice: Look for a plan that is comprehensive with very few exclusions, simple to understand and a minimum of fine print. If you have an employee benefit package in your workplace and the interest was enough among your co-workers, perhaps the human resources department could be persuaded to add pet insurance as a new piece of your plan.

To continue with the historical tendency in this article to jump from one topic to another, let’s talk about long term care. A client asked me about the federal long term care program and this is what I found in a Kiplinger Personal Finance booklet by the name of “8 Steps To A Better Retirement”. Beginning in 2011, employees of companies that choose to participate in the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act will be automatically enrolled. Other workers and self-employed individuals will be able to enroll on their own. Retirees are not eligible. Don’t give up your existing long term care policy for this. The government plan states that you have to pay premiums for five years before you would be eligible for a cash benefit of about $50.00 per day.  To receive benefits, you have to be unable to perform an undetermined number of activities of daily living. Premiums are projected to be as much as $125 – $160 per month.  The good news is that you cannot be rejected because of medical conditions and it covers some services not normally covered by many traditional long term care policies, such as homemaker services and home modifications. Let the buyer beware.

There is a country song sung by Lee Brice that provides a pretty good guide to a long lasting marriage: “Be your best friend, tell the truth, and over use ‘I love you’. Go to work, do your best, don’t outsmart your common sense, never let your prayin’ knees get lazy and love like crazy”. And from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, “Give them wisdom and devotion in the ordering of their common life, that each may be to the other a strength in need, a counselor in perplexity, a comfort in sorrow and a companion in joy. Grant that their wills may be so knit together in your will and their spirits in your Spirit, that they may grow in love and peace with you and one another all the days of their life.”

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