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Monthly Archives September 2012

Vote Buying with Colonoscopies

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If you vote for Obama you can get a free colonoscopy. At least that is what Joe (the human gaffe machine) Biden is promising.

“Everyone knows, everyone in this room knows that President Obama has increased the benefits available to people on Medicare by the action he took,” Biden said. “You are now able to go get a wellness exam, and guys, if you conclude you need a colonoscopy because of the feeling you had or you need a breast health examination, you don’t have to pay a co-pay for that.”



Washington Examiner, “Biden promotes free colonoscopies


The next time you have a colonoscopy, and it isn’t free, send the bill to Joe. He won’t mind.

Original content copyright © InsureBlog




Fraud or Hero?

We’ve touched on “stranger owned” life insurance and annuity plans many times in the past (most recently: here). While there are legitimate uses for these kinds of plans, they are often of dubious legality.

Recently, Joseph Caramadre (a Rhode Island financial planning guru) decided to try his hand. Believing that the Ocean State’s insurable interest requirement was weak, he decided it’d be a good idea to entice seniors (and folks knocking at death’s door) to purchase variable annuities which he would then either keep for himself or sell off to rubes investors.

Acting as a “charitable organization,” he’s created a furor in Rhode Island, but may not have done anything illegal.

Time will tell.

Meantime, our friends at LifePartners (about whom we initially wrote here, with subsequent updates) appear to have dodged any number of bullets:

Life Partners Holdings, Inc. has been cleared of allegations by Texas state securities officials that it did not register life settlement transactions as securities under state law.”

The court basically told Lone Star State authorities to pound sand, clearing the way for LP to continue on its merry way.

Heh.

Original content copyright © InsureBlog




"So Glad I Had Pet Insurance" story – cats and lilies do not mix

I was chatting with an Embraced pet parent, LeAnne, a few months ago and she told me her crazy-awful story about her two cats and their adventures with lilies. I’ve used this situation in several conversations with journalists since; it’s definitely a “glad I had pet insurance story” for pet health insurance month.

Here is LeAnne’s story in her own words.
___________________________________________________________________________________________ 

I am 33, active, not overweight, and generally healthy, yet I injured a disc in my back by sneezing and then injured it further by coughing a few weeks later. Part of my disc actually detached from the rest and the detached piece floated out and was pressing so hard on my sciatic nerve that it was causing my whole right leg to go numb. I could barely walk. I work for a large corporation that offers several options for health insurance, and since I historically only have preventative-type visits in a year, I always choose the lower monthly cost option with high copay and deductibles. This need for surgery was very unexpected and it cost me $5,000 out of pocket, and I was off work for two weeks, then restricted for another three weeks. 

During the two weeks that I was at home, many friends, relatives, and coworkers sent flowers. Typically, I really don’t like when people send me flowers, as I am always afraid that my over-curious cats will knock over a vase and hurt themselves and my floors. I decorated my back patio with all of the flowers instead of keeping them in the house. One Thursday afternoon I got yet another delivery (from the team that I manage at work.) I was out of vases, and the flowers hadn’t bloomed yet, so I put them in the kitchen sink. I hate to sound ungrateful, but I just didn’t know what to do with all of them! Before heading to bed, my fiance asked what I was going to do with them and I told him just to
leave them, I would figure it out in the morning. 

Cat tree Stella and FloraThe next day I decided to get on some work conference calls and do some work from home. I was busy all day and didn’t even remember that I left the flowers in the sink in the kitchen. That afternoon, Flora (who traditionally DOESN’T get into things–that’s Stella’s job) walked into the family room where I was working and started throwing up. She was throwing up leaves. I ran to the lowers in the sink and saw teeth marks all over them. I also noticed about half of the flowers had bloomed overnight. I know that Easter lilies are bad or cats and when I saw the bloomed flowers, I knew they looked like a type of lily, so started googling. I quickly saw pictures of the kind of lily that as in my sink–it appeared to be an Asiatic Lily–which were labeled as highly poisonous to cats. 

Due to my surgery, I wasn’t even permitted to carry my cats, so I called my mom in a panic and told her that we had to get them both to the vet. It was Flo that was throwing up, but I wasn’t going to leave Stella alone in the event she ingested them and was going to start throwing up next.

Because it was late in the day Friday and my vet knew how serious it was, she had me take them both to MedVet, a 24-hour vet hospital. I talked to my vet most of the way there, trying to decide if I should admit Stella too, and she said that even if Stella had brushed up against the pollen and licked it off of herself, she was in a lot of danger. Well, ironically, one of the funny things about Stella is
that she licks EVERYTHING. Like a dog! She especially likes to lick Flo–constantly. Knowing that Flo
Bed Stella & Florahad certainly played around in the flowers long enough to have brushed up against pollen, and then had obviously eaten the plant was enough–now I was scared for both of them. My vet had explained that lily ingestion causes kidney failure, and I was beside myself with concern, as I lost a cat about 3 years ago due to unexplained kidney failure at the age of 6 (no flowers that time, we have never been able to figure that out.) What I DID know is that there is no way to fix it or reverse it. 

As the severity of this sunk in, I knew I was in for a huge bill. This was within less than two weeks of my surgery. I was already extremely concerned about the bills I was facing for my own health over the upcoming months. But, I reminded myself that this was why I had two things–pet insurance and a credit card. Granted, I HATE using credit cards, and between the cats and me, my balance is higher than it’s ever been, but Embrace reimbursed a large portion of the expense, and I each month I am chipping away at the rest.

Stella and FloraLike all pet owners, my cats mean the world to me. I felt incredibly guilty that I left those flowers in the house, and I couldn’t imagine losing them. When reviewing the statistics on lily toxicity with my vet and the staff at MedVet, I was truly bracing for the possibility of losing one or both of them. Having insurance allowed me to make decisions based upon what was best for them, not what I could afford. That peace of mind was so important to me–especially since my body and mind was already under a lot of stress with my own operation. 

I appreciate what Embrace offers and what you do to help your customers through situations like this. I plan to keep insurance for these two for the rest of their lives–I can’t afford NOT to.
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Flora’s vet bill total was $1,410 and Stella’s was $1,305. With their deductible of $400 and reimbursement percentage of 80%, LeAnne received back $1,500. Her policy premium for both cats is $356 a year – less than a dollar a day.

Related Posts:
September is Pet Health Insurance Month
“Wish I’d had pet insurance” story – painful choice to euthanize
“Wish I’d had pet insurance” story – close encounter with dental floss
Guest Post: can I get pet insurance for that?
“Wish I’d had pet insurance” story – vet techs need pet insurance too!
Guest Post: Pet Insurance Q&A from Dr Patrick Mahaney
“So Glad I had Pet Insurance” story – hip dysplasia surgery for 1 year old German Coolie
“So Glad I had Pet Insurance” story – surgery for vicious dog attack
“So Glad I Had Pet Insurance” story – cats and lilies do not mix





Pack Healthier Lunches

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Term Life Insurance and Healthy LunchesBringing your lunch to work is a great way to save money and get balanced nutrition. And a balanced diet means a healthier lifestyle and less expensive term life insurance premiums. Unfortunate, there are common mistakes you may be making with your brown bag lunch. Below are several ways to pack a delicious, healthy lunch.

 

Proper Portions

Packing last night’s leftovers might seem like a good idea, but it’s easy to overeat if you aren’t careful about portion sizes. Portion out leftovers into single servings. For example, a serving of rice or pasta is one cup and serving of protein is 3 ounces. You should beware of prepackaged foods such as individual bags of chips as they may actually contain more than one serving. If you’re taking snack foods read the label to determine how many make up a serving and bring exactly that in a small plastic bag.


Plan Ahead

If you want to eat better, you have to plan better. If you don’t you end up tossing whatever you can find into a brown bag while you’re trying to get ready for work or running late so you skip packing a lunch altogether and end up eating out. This spells diet disaster. Keep a running shopping list and train yourself to write down easy to pack lunch items as you run out of them. Make foods easy to pack so you have no excuse for not packing a lunch. Cut up produce when you bring it home. Divide larger packages of snacks into individual servings and pack the night before. Pack your lunch after dinner when you’re not hungry, less rushed and you’ll be more likely to bring foods you know you should be eating.

 

Liven It Up

A sandwich, chips and an apple might be your standard lunch. And it is healthy but boy would that get old after a while. There are simple ways to make lunch more satisfying. Keep things interesting and you will be less tempted to hit up the burger joint on your break. Simple changes like using different sandwich toppings such as olive tapenade, shredded carrots or roasted red peppers can help liven things up. You can also try switching out lunch meats with hummus, black beans or avocado. Try brining wraps or salads in place of your sandwich and you have yourself a healthy, relatively exciting meal.

 

Afternoon Snack

It’s perfectly fine to grab a snack. Just plan ahead so that you’re not tempted by the not so healthy snacks in the vending machine. Keep a stash of healthy snacks at the office. Have a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts on hand incase hunger strikes. Having snacks available makes it less likely that you’ll be munching on unhealthy munchies later.

 

Beverages

If you drink a single can of soda with lunch, you’ve already consumed 150 calories and zero nutrients. Those extra calories add up. You should skip the soda, bottled beverages and energy drinks. Water is your best bet. You can add a little juice or a dash of drink mix if plain water is too boring.

If you are already packing lunches then you’ve already fought half the battle. Being mindful of what you are eating at the office is the first step. The next step is making sure you don’t pack too much, you are packing the right things and you don’t bore of the food you are packing. Making the above changes to your lunches can make an impact on your overall health which in turn could save you money on your term life insurance. Start packing healthier lunches today.


Related Topics:

Eating Right At Work

Downsize Your Portions

Eat Better, Cheaper





Ergonomics For Your Health

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Term Life Insurance and ErgonomicsErgonomics is about ensuring a good fit between people and what they interact with. This could include the objects they use or the environments they live in. Having an ergonomically correct office is essential. Ergonomics is all about how the human body interacts with your work and environment. Incorporating ergonomics into your office will improve your productivity, make you more comfortable and prevent stress and injury. The less injury and stress you endure, the more likely it is you will improve your health and save money on term life insurance.

 

Improve Productivity

An ergonomically designed office is one that is created to ensure maximum productivity. This  means making your office tools and resources readily available, making you more efficient and productive in your work. Organize your office space so that frequently used items are close to you, and less frequently used items are in a drawer or on a shelf. Keep your keyboard and mouse close to you on your desk. Having to drag out your keyboard and mouse, or pulling them closer to you every time that you sit down to work, means wasted time and less productivity. Sitting behind a desk all day can be grueling on the body. It is important to have an office set up that not only improves your productivity, but also allows you to be comfortable. There are plenty of office tools and furniture pieces out there that can aid you in creating an ergonomic and comfortable office. The more comfortable you are at your desk the less likely you will be distracted from pain and you can focus on the task at hand.

 

Prevents Stress and Injury

You may spend hours at a time seated in front of your computer screen working and typing. Being stationary for long periods, constantly looking at a computer screen and conducting repetitive motions like typing, can create stress for the body. Ergonomics is important because it can prevent stress and injury if you do the following:

  • Rest your hands frequently, especially when any tingling, numbness, pain, cramping, etc. occurs.
  • Invest in a quality office chair that is adjustable and fits you well.
  • When using a keyboard or mouse, your hands should be even or slightly lower than your elbows.
  • Keep your hands aligned with your forearms as much as possible, rather than bent at the wrists.
  • Rest your elbows on your chair’s armrests and adjust them so the weight of your arms is supported by the armrests, not by your shoulders.
  • Make sure that your feet touch the floor at a 90 degree angle. If your feet cannot touch the floor, then use a footrest. 
  • The top of your monitor should be about eye level so you aren’t bending your neck up or too far down.

 

Ergonomics in the office is important because it improves your productivity, creates a comfortable work environment, and prevents stress and injury. Creating an ergonomic office is easy if you follow the above tips. You not only will improve the quality of your work, but also will improve the quality of your life and will save money on life insurance.

 

Related topics:

Reducing Workplace Stress

Great Stretches You Can Do At Your Desk

Reasons For Better Posture





A reasonable ADA ruling. Why does this seem so unusual?

The
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not bar charging higher health plan
premiums to employees who don’t complete wellness screenings, the 11th US
Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled. The 11th Circuit Court is
located in Atlanta and has jurisdiction in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.  The parties are Bradley SEFF,
Plaintiff–Appellant, v. BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA, a political subdivision of the
State of Florida, Defendant–Appellee.
The district court granted Broward’s motion for summary judgment, finding the employee wellness program fell within the ADA’s safe harbor provision for insurance plans. We [the 11th Circuit Court] affirm.”
I
think it’s important that this finding was based on ADA’s “safe harbor”.  Wellness plan sponsors who charge more
for persons who do not take part in health screenings must take care that those
screenings meet the safe harbor test. If they do not, the plan may risk similar
legal challenge.
Original content copyright © InsureBlog




FaceBook Insurance

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Several years ago, we noted that social media-using British property owners faced the prospect of higher insurance premiums:

Users of social networking websites could face higher insurance premiums because burglars are using them to ‘shop’ for victims’ personal details.”

Never let it be said that the British P&C insurance industry stands still for long (it’s the homeland, after all, of LLoyd’s of London). Understanding that those social media users also face an increased risk of identity theft and threats to their reputation from some of their more salacious fellow countrymen, at least one British insurance firm is breaking new ground:

There can be real defamation of character when the trolls get geared up for war, and UK-based insurance company ALLOW has decided that people need protection.”

The carrier has introduced a line of products to mitigate the damage done by “reputational damage, account jacking and other forms of ID theft.”

At a cost of less than a latté a day a month (about $6.50), one can purchase virtual peace of mind, or whatever amount of such $16,000 of coverage will allow one to buy. They even offer a 30 day free trial – sweet.

The downside: so far, the coverage is available only to our Cousins Across the Pond©.

[Hat Tip: Ace of Spades]
Original content copyright © InsureBlog




5 Easy Ways to Lower your Insurance Premium

Many think that once they get an insurance premium quote, it’s set in stone. Thankfully, this isn’t the case. Did you know that there are many things that you can do to bring your premium down? No matter who you are or how old you are, here are five simple things that you can do to bring your insurance premium down:

#1 Pay Up Front

Did you know that the more you pay up front, the more you can save? If you’re paying month to month, you may want to ask your insurance provider if you can semi-annually or even annually. The more that you pay up front, the more that you’re going to be able to save.

#2 Driving Habits

I know it’s basic common sense, but sadly, many people don’t follow this golden rule. When you drive, try to abide by the speed limits and be alert when you drive. As a number one factor that insurance companies look at, if you don’t have a great driving record, you can plan on having some of the highest premiums on the block.

#3 Watch your Miles

The less you drive each year, the less you will have to pay in premiums annually. If you drive less than 10,000 miles in a year, let your insurance company know. What you’re going to find out is that they will give you a lower rate if you stay below a certain mileage threshold. To prove that you drive these miles, they will probably want an odometer report at least every six months.

#4 Reduce your Deductibles

Take a close look at your comprehensive and collision deductibles right now. If they are less than $500, you may want to consider upping them to a higher amount such as $1,000. As long as you can afford these deductibles, you can save at least 20% to 40% off your bill almost instantly. Remember to do this only if you can afford that deductible in case of an accident.

#5 Multiple Policies

The more policies you have with a company, the less you’re going to have to pay each month. For example, let’s say that you’re going to add homeowners, car and your boat. The more that you add, the more that you’re going to potentially save. What you’re also going to find out is that the longer you’re with a company, the more likely they will be willing to keep you on board. So if you want to haggle on your price, you could potentially find yourself getting a good deal.

These are all five great things that you can do to bring your policy down. If you haven’t done any of these, consider trying so now. Even if you don’t see any tips listed above, what you can do is always talk with your insurance broker. Since they want to keep you on board, they will be more than happy to help you save money.

Hannah runs the website www.howmuchisit.org. This website helps you find the prices on anything ranging from car insurance costs to the cost of a local babysitter.





"So Glad I had Pet Insurance" story – surgery for vicious dog attack

This claim was Embrace’s first big claim and I couldn’t believe how perfectly it illustrates why you should get insurance – you just can’t imagine a scenario like this. Poor Storm, an Akita puppy, was attacked by the dog next door. Norma Jean tells the story in her own words.
___________________________________________________________________________________________

DSC00019_editedStorm was in our fenced backyard with Rich (my husband). He was running along the fence when our neighbors Malamute managed to get a part of his head under the fence and as Storm ran by he grabbed Storm’s right front right leg and tried to drag him under the fence. Storm was just a few months old and the other dog was about 6-7 yrs old. My husband had to go over the 6 foot fence and beat the dog off to free Storm.

We rushed Storm to the emergency clinic. His poor little leg was barely attached and when the people at the clinic saw it, their first thought was to try to save his life. The bone was shattered and he
Storm after forelimb surgerywas just barely alive. They managed to stabilize him and found that the main artery going to his foot was still intact. Our Hero, Dr.Paul Moss, did surgery on him for hours and Storm came through it. He had an external metal brace with pins that kept the bones in place and Dr Moss adjusted it for his growing leg about once a month.

Storm had a number of other surgeries over the next year and a half. He is now 6yrs old and weighs about 150lbs and limps a little, but other than that he is doing pretty well.

Now for Embrace. A few days before the accident, I was on the net looking at Pet Insurance… I checked with a number of the companies, but when I spoke with the person at Embrace (I think it was Laura), she was so nice and caring that I decided the take out a policy right there and then. I paid the insurance premium.


DSC00460ALittle did I know how soon we would need it. Storm’s accident happened just a few days later …we didn’t even have a copy of the policy yet. I call Embrace and told them what had happened and they were wonderful. There was never a question about their paying the bills and to top it off they stayed with us by phone and email the whole way. They were rooting for Storm as much as we were.

We have been with Embrace since that time and had other claims and they have been just great. They pay more quickly than our own health insurance! And we feel as though they are a part of our family. They are always there when we need them and I recommend them to anyone who has a pet.
__________________________________________________________________________________________

I’ve written about Storm’s claim details before but an update on all Storm’s claims over the six years insured by Embrace is as follows:

Diagnosis Claimed Covered Paid
Dog attacked – fracture left radius and ulna 1,927.92 1,797.14 1,277.71
Follow up visits and removal of ring fixator 1,251.42 918.62 734.90
Follow up care, right rear leg patella luxation 185.81 119.99 95.99
Rebandage leg 100.00 100.00 80.00
Recheck ulnar ostectomy 100.00 100.00 80.00
Recheck ulnar ostectomy 25.00 25.00 20.00
Follow up reck on ulnar ostectomy 75.00 75.00 60.00
Follow up radiograph on Ulnar Ostectomy 25.00 25.00 20.00
Ulnar Osteotomy 766.93 727.73 582.18
Recheck Ostectomy 50.00 50.00 40.00
Bilateral Medial Luxating Patellas 1,377.52 1,266.72 853.38
Re-stabilze Tibial Crest 545.33 461.05 368.84
Medial Patella Luxation, Losing Weight 463.33 394.89 315.91
recheck x2 50.00 50.00 40.00
re-operate left medial patella luxation 192.00 70.00 56.00
dermatitis – insect bite 89.00 33.00 26.40
dermatitis, dermatophytosis and pyoderma 315.82 48.00 38.40
dermatitis, alopecia, trauma or insect bite 89.98 33.00 26.40
Upper Resp Infection, Conjunctivitis 55.70 33.00 0.00
Lick Granuloma, Dermatitis 104.95 33.00 0.00
Dermatitis, Allergies 130.45 48.00 0.00
Forelimb lameness and Diarrhea 235.62 207.42 5.94
Diarrhea 235.36 211.10 168.88
Total 8,392.14 6,827.66 4,890.93

Related Posts:
September is Pet Health Insurance Month
“Wish I’d had pet insurance” story – painful choice to euthanize
“Wish I’d had pet insurance” story – close encounter with dental floss
Guest Post: can I get pet insurance for that?
“Wish I’d had pet insurance” story – vet techs need pet insurance too!
Guest Post: Pet Insurance Q&A from Dr Patrick Mahaney
“So Glad I had Pet Insurance” story – hip dysplasia surgery for 1 year old German Coolie
“So Glad I had Pet Insurance” story – surgery for vicious dog attack





"So Glad I had Pet Insurance" story – hip dysplasia surgery for 1 year old German Coolie

Being Pet Health Insurance Month, it’s time for a “so glad I had pet insurance” story. How’s this for a good one. A one year old German Coolie (yes, it’s a real cool looking dog too) based in Salem, NY who unexpectedly needed hip dysplasia surgery, for a total cost of $5,417.

Here’s Amy H’s story in her own words: 

2012-07-01_16-07-51_500When my 1 year old German Coolie Elliot Cool came up three legged lame after a fun weekend of
running and playing, I knew something was wrong right away.  After bringing him to the vet for an exam and radiographs, my worst fears were confirmed.  Elliot Cool was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and would need hip replacement surgery if he was going to be able to live out a full, active life without constant, debilitating pain.  

DSC00321I had never doubted the wisdom of signing Elliot Cool up with Embrace pet insurance when he joined my family at 4 months of age last year.  I have been an Embrace customer since 2008, I know the quality of customer service Embrace provides.  As a financial planner, I also know the importance of having a plan in place for unexpected financial emergencies.  For my policies with Embrace, I have chosen a higher deductible and higher co-pay, in order to keep affordable coverage for those expenses that I can’t plan for.

Elliot THRI never anticipated needing to use the coverage for Elliot Cool so soon, but I am so thankful Embrace was there for us when we needed them.  Without Embrace, I would not have been able to provide Elliot Cool the surgery he needed to ensure he would be able to live a pain free life.  

Thank you, Embrace!

There were a couple of vet visits to determine the diagnosis and then an initial specialist visit at Tufts University but then the main surgery details are as follows:

ITEM BILLED AMOUNT
Waste $10.00
Chem 25 $62.00
CBC & Platelet Count $60.00
Micro Exam Blood Smear $0.00
UA A/O $28.00
Radiograph $88.00
Rad Addl $79.00
Total Hip Series 4 views $292.00
Butorphanol 10mg/ml CIV $13.44
Atipamezole 5mg/ml x 0.31 $10.00
Atipamezole 5mg/ml x 0.15 $10.00
Dexdomitor 0.5mg/ml x 0.31 $10.00
Dexdomitor 0.5mg/ml x 0.15 $10.00
Anesthesia 2hrs $220.00
Anesthesia Pre Work Up $54.00
Anesthesia Disposables/Agents $81.00
Hospitalization $58.00
Anaerobic ID & Aerobic $174.00
Lab Accession Fee – Send Outs $3.00
Daily Professional Care $69.00
Cefazolin x 1 $18.00
Total Hip Series 4 views $292.00
Surgery Supplies $14.00
Surgery Implants $1,941.00
Total Hip Replacement Unilat $1,178.00
Cefazolin Sodium 100mg/ml $10.94
Methadone 10mg/ml C II $29.04
Hospitalization $58.00
Daily Professional Care $69.00
Cefazolin x 1 $18.00
Meloxicam 1.5mg/ml Susp x 2.60 $7.57
Hospitalization $39.00
Daily Professional Care $69.00
 TOTAL $5,074.99

Eliot Cool had a $500 annual deductible, an 80% reimbursement percentage and a $10,000 annual maximum, with prescription drug coverage not chosen, for a monthly premium of $24.91.

The surgery reimbursement was calculated as follows:

STEP 1: Calculate Potential Refund
  Billed Amount:         $5,074.99
  Covered Charges:       $5,074.99
  Annual deductible remaining     $122.00
  subtotal     $4,952.99
  Your Share of the claim (20%)     $990.60
Potential Refund          $3,962.39
           
           
STEP 2: Compare against annual maximum
     Annual Maximum       $10,000.00
     Prior refunds for this policy year     $0.00
     Coverage remaining     $10,000.00
           
Total refund is:       $3,962.39

Related Posts:
September is Pet Health Insurance Month
“Wish I’d had pet insurance” story – painful choice to euthanize
“Wish I’d had pet insurance” story – close encounter with dental floss
Guest Post: can I get pet insurance for that?
“Wish I’d had pet insurance” story – vet techs need pet insurance too!
Guest Post: Pet Insurance Q&A from Dr Patrick Mahaney
“So Glad I had Pet Insurance” story – hip dysplasia surgery for 1 year old German Coolie
“So Glad I had Pet Insurance” story – surgery for vicious dog attack