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Nationwide Pet HMO Provides Peace Of Mind, Pet Owners Say
Dana Haddad likes to believe there's no limit when it comes to medical care for her 7-year-old dog, Kelbi.
In the past, she worried about the cost. The real estate agent doesn't think twice anymore before taking Kelbi in for routine check-ups, vaccinations-even hundreds of dollars worth of dental work. When the Maltese needs care, Hadded makes the appointments without delay.
               An HMO called Pet Assure offers a 25 percent discount on veterinary services for all pets. Unlike an insurance plan, it has no deductibles or exclusions for pre-existing conditions, increased charges for old or sick pets, or benefit limits.
                    "Pet Assure has all the benefits of an HMO without the limitations," says Jay Bloom, the company's CEO.
     It costs $99 a year for the first pet, and for a limited time a family can enroll all of its pets for $125. All fees are waived if a pet owner applies for and is issued the Pet Assure MasterCard, which is free. Savings are available from over 1,500 veterinarians in more than 500 locations. Consumers can inquire as to their own veterinarians' participation in the plan.
     In addition to the discount on veterinary services, members save on grooming, training, boarding, dog-walking, pet-sitting, pet supplies and therapy from network providers. Members can also enroll their pets free of charge in an ID tag and recovery service.
     Bloom gives his golden retriever credit for the idea behind Pet Assure. Lucky developed hip dysplasia, requiring a $3,000 operation. "I assumed I was covered," Bloom says. "I submitted the bill to my insurance company, but they said it was hereditary and refused the claim. I wanted to see what else wasn't covered, and found several thousand exclusions." Bloom says he paid the bill, but vowed to help prevent similar situations from recurring.
     Dr. Phillip Raclyn, who runs several veterinary hospitals in New York City, says that what he gives in discounts he more than makes up for in volume. "If I wasn't a vet," he says, "I'd be a member."  To reach Pet Assure, call 1-888-789-PETS. On the Internet: www.petassure.com