Veteran-owned service dogs are now eligible for free health insurance coverage under a new contract between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and pet health insurance company Trupanion.
The VA announced on January 27, 2014, that it will pay 100 percent of cost of Trupanion’s insurance premium covering ongoing preventive care as well as prescription medications, emergency care, and other medical treatments for service dogs of VA-enrolled veterans.
The insurance coverage provides payment for care by licensed veterinarians of working service and guide dogs that have been approved by the VA as medically necessary. The coverage does not apply to elective surgery, non-prescription medications and other over-the-counter items, such as flea control and dietary supplements.
Paralyzed Veterans of America applauds the VA’s move to provide the insurance coverage to veteran service dogs, as these animals enable many Paralyzed Veterans members and other veterans living with spinal cord injury or disease (SCI/D) to live full and independent lives.
“This is a very positive policy given that pet therapy is one of many factors contributing to the healing process for most patients,” said Lana McKenzie, associate executive director of medical services and health policy for Paralyzed Veterans of America. “Service dogs definitely become more and more relevant in the area of assisting people with disability and contributing toward living independently for many of our veterans with SCI/D conditions.”
The VA and Trupanion will mail information on the insurance to veterans whose service dogs qualify for the program and will provide information about how to use the coverage. A Trupanion tag with the service dog’s policy number also will be included in the mailing.
Learn more about Paralyzed Veterans of America
Brittany Ballenstedt is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in several publications, including Government Executive, National Journal, Technology Daily and NextGov.com.