What follows is an interview we conducted with David Caddell, director of the Ann Arbor Animal Hospital. The intention of this interview was to understand why A2AH offers Preventive Health Plans and whether they truly are a savings to those who purchase them.
Why is preventive health important? What is a preventive health plan?
Just as with human medicine, our veterinarians believe that preventive routine health care is an important step pet owners can take to ensure their pets live longer, healthier and happier lives. Our Preventive Health Plans (PHPs) allow our veterinarians to diagnose potential health problems BEFORE their patients develop a more serious health condition. This is important due to how well pets can "hide" how they are feeling, as opposed to a veterinarian who physically exams the pet through multiple visits to the hospital each year. The Ann Arbor Animal Hospital's PHPs include physical examinations, vaccinations and lab tests. The A2AH believes that our PHPs provide comprehensive, high quality veterinary care at a lower cost to clients because our doctors developed each plan by bundling specific, annual routine veterinary services for dogs and cats. By bundling services we are able to save clients money on the services contained within each plan.
What was the impetus for their creation at A2AH?
We created PHPs by using the same model as used in human health care, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". Our veterinarians believed that, in some cases, we were treating pets for serious health conditions that could have been minimized or avoided if the patient had been examined and treated prior to the condition becoming more serious. We also learned, in some cases, that clients were using multiple veterinary clinics for their pet's health care needs, all to save money. Therefore, by bundling services and reducing the cost of preventive health, we were able to help these clients save and were able, at the same time, to provide better health care for their pet. Another troubling side effect of using multiple veterinarians is a break in continuity of care, i.e., different protocols, degraded medical conversations with a client because they were receiving conflicting communications form multiple clinics. The biggest contributor to sub-optimal communication is that each clinic wasn't aware of diagnosis and treatment plans being recommended and enacted at different clinics.
What sort of health care would be covered for my pet? Is it just for older pets? what is the correlation between preventive check ups and a healthier pet?
Our PHPs include FREE, UNLIMITED EXAMINATIONS during daytime hours for an entire year, recommended annual vaccines, parasite tests, and diagnostic blood and urine tests. Also, we offer plans that include neuters, spays and dentistry options. All plans are customized to address the preventive health needs by species and life cycle stage.
What if my pet has a pre-existing condition? Are PHPs only for healthy animals?
Our PHPs are available to all pets, unless they are terminal.
What is the difference between a PHP and pet health insurance?
PHPs are focused on preventive health whereas pet insurance is a form of property insurance. So, while PHPs are focused on "prevention", pet insurance reimburses the owner after their pet has received veterinary care, requiring owners to submit an insurance claim to the pet insurance company.
Will having a preventive health plan really save me money in the long run?
Yes. As previously mentioned, we not only bundle services saving clients 5% to 10% off of the bundled services, but the PHPs also include an additional 5% Preferred Pet Discount allowing pet owners to receive a 5% discount on all non-PHP services, e.g., ER Exam Fee, food, prescriptions, hospitalization, non-PHP lab tests, etc. Analyzing 15 different pets, when asked by clients who were deciding whether or not they saved money on the plan, we were able to show them that they actually saved money. More specifically, 13 of the 15 accounts analyzed showed that clients did, in fact, save money. In the case of the two clients who did not save money, it was determined that the reason the cost was higher was because the owner's had not taken advantage of all of the bundled services included in the plan they purchased, such as vaccines or lab tests available to them through the plan.