Household pets, such as your favorite feline or dapper doggie, now can be covered by health insurance and the City of Horn Lake has taken steps to offer such a group coverage program to its employees.
Aldermen, at its most recent meeting, approved allowing payroll deduction for a program which Human Resources Director/Assistant City Clerk Arianne “A.J.” Linville said would make Horn Lake the first municipality in DeSoto County, and likely the area, to mimic what Fortune 500 companies are already doing for their workers.
“There are many employees who treat their animals like a family member,” said Linville.
Pet insurance is a supplemental benefit that employees can take and remove from their payroll deduction plans at any time.
It is 100 percent paid for by the employee so there is no monetary cost to the city. However, by being a group program, rates will be much lower than if the employee would embark on an individual plan.
The idea to provide pet insurance to city employees was the brainchild of Linville, herself a pet owner, who saw a news report recently about major corporations offering such a plan to their employees.
“I thought it would be great to go outside the box and offer a supplemental benefit that would take off the added stress to our employees that have pets that may need medical attention,” Linville said. “By doing a group plan, you can get a better price and offer a better product by doing it through an employer group plan. It’s a win-win situation.”
The insurance plan being offered by Nationwide through the city’s current insurance broker Lipscomb and Pitts is considered the best program out there, said Linville, and offers two options. They are called My Pet Protection and My Pet Protection with Wellness.
Those who enroll in the program by Friday, Dec. 15 would have their insurance effective Jan. 1, although those who miss that deadline can apply at any time.
Pre-existing conditions are included if diagnosed prior to policy issuance and there is no waiting period.
Rates are dependent on the type of pet being covered and their age.
“This plan will reimburse up to 90 percent of the invoice of whatever it costs at their veterinarian,” Linville said.
The list of things covered under the program sounds strikingly similar to any human insurance plan, but will also cover annual shots, heart worm protection, spay and neutering along with flea and tick prevention, among others.
“I know that, while pets are not part of every home, they are important to those that have them,” Linville said. “I thought it would be great to show that Horn Lake is a progressive municipality that tries to be all inclusive to all members of their employees and their families.”
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.