Consumer Confidential: Let's talk about Medicare for all — for pets

David Lazarus, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

Medicare for all. For pets.

I've been chewing on that idea since chatting with Stephanie Napoles, 32, who shared a recent experience involving her Cane Corso, Rockie.

Rockie was diagnosed with hip dysplasia after a minor accident. It's a relatively common ailment among larger dogs (and Cane Corsos are big; Rockie, at 8 months, already weighs 90 pounds).

The basic issue with hip dysplasia is that the ball and socket of the hip joint stop fitting properly, causing the joint to deteriorate. Hip replacements costing thousands of dollars are often prescribed by vets.

Rockie is insured by a Bellevue, Wash., pet insurance company called Healthy Paws, which I wrote about last year after the firm denied coverage for a Pasadena pit bull's cancer. Healthy Paws insisted the dog's sickness was a preexisting condition.

It wasn't. After I got involved, Healthy Paws acknowledged that the latest cancer was unrelated to an earlier tumor and agreed to cover all claims.


Rockie may not be as fortunate. Healthy Paws informed Napoles the other day that coverage for hip dysplasia will be provided only if a dog was insured prior to turning 6 and if no symptoms of hip dysplasia were detected over the ensuing 12 months.

"Since the signs and symptoms of Rockie's hip dysplasia" surfaced before that 12-month window was up, the company said, "it is not eligible for coverage under the Healthy Paws policy."

Napoles, who lives near Camp Pendleton (her husband, a Marine, is stationed there), said she pays $135 a month in premiums to cover two dogs.

"If you're going to have loopholes for preexisting conditions, why offer insurance at all?" she asked.


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