As most Americans are singularly focused on health care reform -- for humans -- it's worth noting that it may be time to also give a little thought to pet health care reform. What do I mean you ask? I'll tell you exactly what I mean.
Let's take a look at Great Britain, for example. In Great Britain, humans receive health care free at the point of delivery. To the contrary, most pets on the other side of the pond have to pay for their care, right then, right there. Of course, some have the foresight to buy pet health insurance (approximately 30% in the U.K. versus less than 2% in the U.S.) to help offset these expenses. However, others must pay for vet services directly and immediately out of their pockets. Assuming they can, that is.
What about those pet owners who have no savings and cannot afford insurance? Are there hoards of dogs and cats roaming the streets of Great Britain riddled with disease and illness because their owners can ill afford to care for them?
The answer is a resounding, NO! And this is not because there are no poor pet owners and, as a result, poor pets; there are many. Much like in the U.S. The difference is those animal-loving, savvy Brits have a charitable system of veterinary services -- also free at the point of delivery -- run by the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals, (PDSA). This, in Great Britain, is a pet's "safety net". While the service is oftentimes not exactly 'paw pampering', it is in it's most basic form -- free health care for pets.
We don't have this in the United States -- not for human beings and certainly not for pets. What's wrong with this picture I ask you? It's highly likely that the only place you're "guaranteed" health care in the U.S. is in prison. Go figure.
While there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of people focused on the health care issues of humans in the U.S. (which is a very good thing, by the way), we would contend that there should also be a focus on health care issues related to pets. It begins with education about the importance of pet health insurance and why it's imperative you purchase it when your pet is young and without pre-existing conditions. And it continues with the need to put mechanisms in place to help those who cannot help themselves -- namely needy, sick or injured animals.
We get the calls every day at WebVet: the woman whose Maltese was hit by a car and couldn't find a vet who would treat him because she had no money; the man whose Chihuahua was pregnant and bleeding and he had no money to take her to the vet; and the woman whose cat needed surgery and she couldn't qualify for Care Credit and had no other means to pay the bill.
The Bible says that "God helps those who help themselves." My question now is . . . what about those who can't? Helpless animals.
Think about it.