Health Care for All (Pets Included) — A Hedgehog in the OR

OK, I admit it: I am not an animal person. It's not that I don't like them (we had a white poodle until I was two, when my asthmatic brother was born and we had to give it away). But I am not the type to obsess over a pet. So, the story this morning on NPR about costly, complex medical treatment and health insurance for pets just made me wonder what is happening in our culture? Would you spend thousands for cancer surgery and anti-psychotic drugs for the pet hedgehog, as this family did, according to reporter David Kestenbaum:

If that level of treatment for a hedgehog seems crazy to you, then you don't know Kristen Zorbini Bongard, and you don't know hedgehogs. One of the many great things about hedgehogs, Zorbini Bongard will tell you, is that they can roll up into little balls.

"It's adorable," she says. "All of a sudden you see a nose pop out, and two eyes, and maybe the front two paws, and then some ears. It's a very cute thing to watch."

Health insurance for that bundle of cuteness costs about $80 a year. Harriet's total bills came to $2,700. The insurance covered most of the early stuff. In the end, Zorbini Bongard and her husband had to pay about $1,900.

--Rachel Zimmerman

This program aired on October 21, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.


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