Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Join the Pet Health Consortium

The Pet Health Consortium, is a new group forming to educate Congress and the public on the importance and benefits of pet health insurance. Aside from educating the public, among the Consortium’s primary goals is to include pet health insurance as an optional pre-tax benefit provided to employees through Section 125 cafeteria plans. Cafeteria plans commonly include a number of options such as cash/credits, health insurance, medical and flexible spending accounts, adoption and childcare assistance, life insurance, automobile insurance, business travel accident insurance, and 401(k) contributions, etc.

There is no cost to join the Pet Health Consortium. You and your organization may become as actively involved as it chooses to be. It is hoped that organizations would agree to inform their members about the benefits of pet health insurance and the initiative to include the benefit in Section 125. There will be opportunities to become engaged in an advocacy campaign. Those desiring to meet with lawmakers and their staffs are optional. At the very least, Consortium members are asked to demonstrate their support by lending their name to the cause. It is up to each organization to decide how actively engaged it chooses to be.

Once the Consortium has heard from a requisite number of organizations a planning meeting will be scheduled with the individual designated by each group. If your group opts to join the Pet Health Consortium you will need to designate a primary point of contact and email their full name, title, contact information including mailing address, email and phone number to gluke@avma.org. Please respond no later than July 2.

The Pet Health Consortium believes adding pet insurance to cafeteria plans will appeal to the public. Given the opportunity, it is believed pet owners would avail themselves of pet insurance if it were offered as part of a cafeteria plan. Many pets are beloved by their owners and care is of great concern. Their guardians want what’s best for their animals, including access to high quality and affordable veterinary care. Cafeteria plans that include pet insurance will enjoy support among employers who will likely view it as a value-added benefit for their employees.

It is believed this issue will gain traction in Congress as a viable addition to Section 125 as the health care reform debate advances. In addition, there are physiological benefits of pet ownership that positively influence human health including reduced blood pressure, decreased stress hormones and enhanced weight loss for those who walk a dog.

It is hoped that the membership of the Pet Health Consortium is both diverse and inclusive of a broad range of strategic partners who, like NAPHIA and the AVMA are interested in improving pet health and providing affordable options for pet owners.

If you have questions about the Consortium, please contact Gina Luke at AVMA Governmental Relations Division, 202-289-3204, gluke@avma.org.