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We all dread the day when we walk out to feed in the morning and find our horse has been down and rolling most of the night. We get our horse up, give it some Banamine that our vet has wisely told us to keep on hand, and give the vet a call to let them know. An hour later, the vet arrives and performs an exam. She’s fairly certain something is markedly wrong, as our beloved horse’s heart rate is high, and the vet can feel something gas filled in a place where there shouldn’t be gas. Her recommendation is to take it to the nearest referral hospital, as surgery may be needed to correct this problem.

So now what? Colic surgery starts at about $6,000 for a standard surgery with a few days of aftercare and no complications. Start adding difficult procedures during the surgery, prolonged recovery time, or any complications, that price can rise dramatically to $10,000 or more. For most of us, we don’t have that kind of money on hand. So how are we going to pay for it? Most of us don’t carry major medical insurance on our beloved pet. Well recently, several companies have adopted programs that back their products by shelling out the money if your horse winds up needing surgery while on their supplements. Here are just a few and their requirements:

SmartPak Equine – ColiCare™

            Smartpak offers up to $10,000 in surgical reimbursement (including pre-op, surgery, and post-op care) if you feed one of their seven supplements that benefit the hindgut. To be eligible, a horse must be accepted into the program and be fed the supplement at the recommended doses. The horse must also have a veterinarian perform a yearly physical exam and dentistry, and receive routine deworming and vaccinations as recommended by that veterinarian. Horses that are not eligible are those that have had previous colic surgery, are chronically colicky, or have colicked within the last twelve months. To sign up, pick one of the supplements and purchase it in the SmartPak Strips, which ship automatically every 28 days. At checkout, you will be asked if you would like to enroll your horse in the ColiCare™ program.

Platinum Performance – Platinum Colic Coverage™

Platinum Performance offers two supplements that are eligible for $8,000 of reimbursement, and five supplements that are eligible for $10,000 of reimbursement should your horse need colic surgery. To be eligible, horses must be over 5 months of age, the owner must fill out an application, have a veterinarian perform dentistry every year, receive annual vaccinations from their veterinarian, and be directed by their veterinarian on a deworming schedule after the performance of a fecal egg count. The horse must be fed the minimum dose of one of the six eligible supplements daily. Horses not eligible for the program are those that have had previous colic surgery, have a history of chronic colic, or have colicked within the last 12 months, whether treated by a veterinarian or not. To enroll, head to the Platinum Performance website and fill out their application. Then choose one of their six eligible supplements on auto-shipment.

Arenus Animal Health – ColicAssurance Program™

            Arenus Animal Health offers up to $10,000 to horses enrolled in their Wellness Program. In this program, horses can be covered regardless of their previous colic history. It will also reimburse owners for both medical and surgical colics, as a horse that is on fluids for colic can easily rack up a bill. Once enrolled, one of their professionals will select their eligible Wellness Program, either using the AssureGuard and Assure Plus supplements, or the AssureGuard Gold supplement. These supplements must be fed according to the professional’s recommendation. Horses must also be seen yearly by their veterinarian for a physical exam and dentistry, as well as receive vaccinations and a deworming schedule that includes at least two yearly dewormings from the veterinarian. The horse should also have a yearly fecal egg count performed. Horses not eligible for enrollment are those that have had more than one colic surgery, have been diagnosed with certain problems, or if they have had colic from anything other than digestive issues. Arenus also doesn’t cover mini horses, mules, donkeys, zebras, or any combination thereof. To enroll, head over to the Arenus Animal Health website and complete their online enrollment form.

It’s important to remember that with all of these programs, they are not considered an insurance program. These programs offer reimbursement if your horse winds up needing colic surgery. So, you’ll still need a way to front that bill, whether it’s with a credit card or something like CareCredit®. All of these programs require documentation to be submitted before reimbursement can occur.

The biggest question everyone has with each of these programs is how difficult will it be to get reimbursement? Do they actually pay out? The answer is yes. Annie Favreau, a friend of Dr. Meghan’s, had her barrel horse enrolled in the ColiCare™ program. When Rocky colicked in 2016, ColiCare™ reimbursed the Favreaus for the cost of Rocky’s surgery. This is what Annie had to say about ColiCare™: “When Rocky had to have colic surgery, having ColiCare™ took the stress and financial burden out of the picture. We were able to make all the best choices for his care and well-being. I am so thankful that I was part of the program.” So, in answer to your question, yes, they do actually reimburse you as long as your horse has met all of the requirements.

Hopefully we have shed some light on some of these beneficial programs to allow you some peace of mind when it comes to colic. As always, if you have any questions, please call your veterinarian.

For those wanting more details, here are the terms and conditions for each program:

ColiCare™: https://www.smartpakequine.com/ColiCare/termsandconditions

Platinum Colic Coverage™: https://www.platinumperformance.com/platinumcoliccoverage/terms

Colic Assurance Program™: https://arenus.com/colic-assurance-program-terms-and-conditions/