Wednesday 21 June 2023

Cat and dog health costs are rising steeply in the UK and it undermines the human-pet relationship

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) tells us that in 2022 insurers paid out over £1 billion. It is the highest on record reported by members of the ABI. It's a substantial increase and they say that it reflects the high cost of veterinary treatment, which results in more expensive claims on pet health insurance policies.

Cat and dog health costs are rising steeply in the UK and it undermines the human-pet relationship
Cat and dog health costs are rising steeply in the UK and it undermines the human-pet relationship. Image: MikeB.

Pet owners are taking out more at health insurance policies in the UK in order to cover these increased investment costs. And, arguably, the increased veterinary costs are driven by the fact that people are taking out more health insurance policies. 

Inflationary upward spiral

It is a self-serving upward spiral. It is inflationary. And it is not good for the human-to-pet relationship as it simply means that it becomes more expensive to look after a cat or dog.

This is because if insurers are paying out more money to clients to cover inflated veterinary bills, they're going to put up the insurance premiums. Pet owners will be paying out more on a monthly basis year-on-year than they were in the past. 

The whole process is inflationary. Underpinning this is pet health insurance plus the fact that independent veterinary clinics are being brought up rapidly by big business to be run as commercial enterprises primarily rather than the focus being on providing excellent veterinary care which is what happens when veterinarians form a partnership which owns the business.

In terms of veterinary treatment, in the UK, the country is moving in the wrong direction. Once big business gets hold of the veterinary marketplace it damages it. That's my personal opinion.

In fact, big business tends to damage everything decent ultimately because their priority is making a profit and they often go too far. The ABI tells us that for 2022, there was a 28% increase in pet health insurance claims from 2021.

Three quarters of the claims concerned dogs while 20% concerned cats with the remainder concerning other companion animals.

For dogs, the number of claims jumped by 35% compared to 2021, to 1 million claims. Payouts increased by 23% to £800 million. Claims concerning cats rose by 20% with payouts up 22% to £184 million.

The average pet insurance claim was for £327 which was marginally up by 1% from the year before. The ABI states that for spinal surgery the cost will be in the order of £8000-£10,000. 

Modern dachshund is too low to the ground

My mind turns to the dachshund which is known to have spinal problems because, through selective breeding, the dog is unnaturally elongated with short legs due to the presence of dwarfism. 

The ABI don't provide me with a breakdown of claims concerning spinal problems but I suspect a number of them concern the dachshund. In which case, we can point to extreme selective breeding as the cause.

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