New fee schedule: visits to the vet will be more expensive - what to do?

Anyone who has to go to the veterinary practice with their dog, cat and Co.

New fee schedule: visits to the vet will be more expensive - what to do?

Anyone who has to go to the veterinary practice with their dog, cat and Co. from November 22nd has two options: put aside enough money for the treatment or take out animal health insurance. Because it will be more expensive.

X-rays for a whopping 32 euros, vaccinations for 11.50 euros - almost twice as much as before. And around 10 euros more for a simple dog check, even 15 euros for the cat check. Both now cost 23.62 euros each. The new scale of fees for veterinarians, GOT for short, which will come into effect on November 22nd, will bring beads of sweat to the forehead of many pet owners. Many people think about animal health insurance. Does it make sense? The most important answers from animal and consumer advocates:

Should I get pet insurance now? For whom is it possibly worthwhile, for whom not at all?

Despite rising veterinary costs, the Federation of Insured Persons (BDV) advises against animal health insurance. Its board member Bianca Boss basically assigns them to the less important to unimportant insurance companies. Personal liability insurance and pet owner liability insurance always have priority for pet owners.

The Animal Welfare Foundation Four Paws sees it differently: whether insurance for veterinary costs makes sense must always be considered on a case-by-case basis. "Insuring an animal that already has an extensive medical history is certainly more worthwhile than one for a perfectly healthy dog," says Karina Omelyanovskaya.

For the pet expert from Vier Paws, however, it makes sense to have money available in case of an emergency - whether in a separate savings account or in the form of insurance. "Even if a visit to the practice can now become a little more expensive in general, you should never hesitate to visit the vet, especially in an emergency," she says. You shouldn't skimp on check-ups and regular vaccination boosters either, because the treatment costs for an illness are usually much more expensive.

Is insurance more appropriate for certain breeds, less so for others?

Some breeds are predisposed by their breeding. "For example, dachshunds tend to have herniated discs due to their long backs, labradors to elbow and hip dysplasia, and French bulldogs to respiratory and eye problems," Omelyanovskaya lists.

As a rule of thumb, a dog that has neither too short nor too long legs, ears, nose or back and is of a healthy weight has a lower risk of getting sick. The consumer advice center NRW has another rule of thumb ready: The larger the animal, the more health insurance makes sense.

There are different conditions in the insurance jungle. Which points are really important, which are dispensable?

"If you decide to take out health insurance, covering possible surgical costs is essential," says Omelyanovskaya. According to the expert, aftercare should also be included. Because if the worst comes to the worst, the costs for a surgical intervention in the animal will skyrocket.

The annual vaccination boosters, on the other hand, could be paid for by yourself. Even regular check-ups are usually not that important financially.

Where are pitfalls lurking?

According to the North Rhine-Westphalia Consumer Advice Center, only healthy animals are generally insured, with the amount of the premium usually depending on the breed and age of the animal. Often there is also a minimum and maximum age for the animal to be insured. For older or previously ill animals, insurance options are therefore becoming rare. So don't wait too long to graduate.

There is also a pitfall when it comes to deductibles: there is everything between no personal contribution, fixed amounts or certain percentages. Depending on the tariff and treatment, this can cost money. Philipp Opfermann, insurance expert at the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer advice center, gives an example: If a treatment costs 4,000 euros and you have a 20 percent deductible, you still have to pay 800 euros yourself despite having insurance. A fixed deductible of around 250 euros is more calculable.

You should also pay attention to exclusions from insurance cover. The classic is hip dysplasia, which is often ruled out in certain breeds, says Opfermann.

And another pitfall: animal health insurance can be canceled by either party. If you are unlucky, the young and healthy animal is insured for a long time and then thrown out when ailments and illnesses come with increasing age. Only a few insurers waive their right of cancellation, so Victim man.

Do veterinary practices have leeway when it comes to fees? Is it perhaps a good idea to haggle?

Omelyanovskaya explains that veterinarians can determine whether they charge the single, double or triple rate for each treatment. At best, they would decide this based on how challenging, extensive, or time-consuming the treatment is.

The value of the animal or the time of day can also play a role. Only if it is to exceed three times the fee rate do the practice and animal owner have to expressly agree on this before the treatment, explains Opfermann.

And if you are very tight on cash?

"Then it's always worth talking to your veterinarian: Maybe an individual agreement can be made in individual cases," advises Omelyanovskaya. More important than the price, however, is whether the animal and owner receive good advice and feel comfortable in the veterinary practice.

If not on the fees, where else can I save on animal husbandry?

Anyone who wants to reduce spending on their pet can save on accessories and toys, according to the advice of Four Paws. You have to set priorities. A new leash, a new basket or toy is not essential to the survival of an animal, unlike medical care or suitable food. "A dog doesn't care what color its collar is or whether its sleeping area has worn corners," says Karina Omelyanovskaya.

If there is any money left over at the end of the month, she would prefer to put it aside for veterinary emergencies. Instead of investing in new toys, you can plan to play with your pet more. Small search games or practicing new tricks challenge dogs mentally and strengthen the bond between humans and animals.

(This article was first published on Monday, November 07, 2022.)

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