Nestle’s Purina has decided to expand the prominent pet food brand into pet health insurance.

According to MediaPost‘s coverage of the story, the new insurance product will be called PurinaCare. It will offer a portfolio of insurance products with varied premiums and deductibles, covering “everything from routine vaccinations and flea and tick medications to major surgeries and cancers. After meeting a chosen deductible level, consumers will make a 20% co-pay per procedure and can be reimbursed for the remainder.”

It was fascinating to hear that, “Coverage fees vary based on geographic location, pet breed, pet age and other variables.” Is there a role here for the Dartmouth Atlas to analyze this phenomenon?

My favorite quote from the MediaPost story: “While many pet insurance plans resemble property and casualty insurance plans, the PurinaCare plan is designed to look like health insurance plans that people are familiar with for themselves. Consumers said there was an unmet need for a simple plan. We’re trying to mirror what [they’re] used to.” (I’ve added emphasis here as I know very few Americans covered by health insurance who see their plans as ‘simple’! Would that they were!)

Health Populi’s Hot Points: Purina’s head of business development attributes their entry into health insurance was driven by three trends: “humanization” of pets, viewing them as a part of the family; people’s growing interest in wellness; and. advances in veterinary medicine extending pets’ lives.

With the news this week that Americans are living longer than ever, the growth in wellness markets that I talked about in Health Populi here on a global basis and here on employer efforts, there’s the third leg of the Purina strategy stool health policymakers need to refocus on. That is, humanization of, well, fellow citizens…all part of the American family.