Veterinarian insurance trust explores health coverage for pets

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Schaumburg, Ill. - 4/16/08 - Pet health insurance is on the Group Health and Life Insurance Trust's (GHLIT)

Schaumburg, Ill. - 4/16/08 - Pet health insurance is on the Group Health and Life Insurance Trust's (GHLIT) agenda, with goals to guide veterinarians on current public offerings and tentative plans to one day provide its own program.

Whether or not GHLIT will join the 15 to 20 pet health insurance providers already operating in the United States is unclear. Last month, the American Veterinary Medical Association's (AVMA) Executive Board gave GHLIT authority to continue exploring its options and endorsed the trust's guidelines to promote pet health insurance that best serves veterinarians and patients.

The group hopes to jumpstart its education efforts at AVMA's July convention in New Orleans. "But right now, we don't have plans to roll out any new program," GHLIT Chief Executive Officer Libby Wallace says.

"The way pet health insurance is set up today is that it's marketed through veterinarians, but purchased online by the consumer," she explains. "We're looking at the various companies out there to see if they fit in our guidelines. We're also trying to predict what's going to be the wave of the future."

Last November, Executive Board members approved allowing GHLIT to change its charter to include pet insurance as a possible service for AVMA members. At the time, AVMA reports indicated this authorization primarily allowed the trust to offer guidance to the industry and possibly explore future partnerships.

Established by AVMA in 1956, the trust provides group life, disability and medical insurance to veterinarians. GHLIT insurance provides health care coverage for nearly 38 percent of all AVMA members, according to a recent report. Membership increased .3 percent since last year to total 33,204 participants in 2007.

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