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Your Boss Cares More About Your Schnauzer Than You

First, some facts: Americans rank 37th in the world for quality of health care. In 2007, the number of Americans without health insurance rose to a record 47 million. Among those uninsured: 1.8 million veterans and 6 million kids. [USA Today] [NCHC]

Then, of course, there�s the fact that the cost of employer-provided health insurance rose 6.1% in 2007, over twice the rate of inflation. The average employee contribution to their health care premium rose $300. [Associated Press]

Yet, in a move of mis-prioritizing that should shock us, but unfortunately does not, as employers are scaling back on costly health benefits, pet insurance is gaining popularity as an employee benefit. As in insurance for your dog. Or cat. Or guinea pig. [Associated Press]

Take a look at these numbers (and prepare to gag): Veterinary Pet Insurance, the nation�s largest pet insurer, saw its corporate accounts balloon from 15 to 1,600 in the past six years. About 15 percent of Veterinary Pet Insurance�s policies, or about 50,000, now come from its corporate accounts.

So why are people focusing on their lab�s whiskers, instead of that suspicious lump in their chest? For starters, pets are taking a more predominant role in American life. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, pet owners spent an estimated $9.8 billion on veterinary care in 2007, up from $7.1 billion in 2001.

The cost of a surgical veterinarian visit was $453 for dogs and $363 for cats in 2006, the most recent figures available, but treating a pet for an illness like cancer can cost several thousands of dollars.

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