You can purchase pet insurance for many types of pets, including dogs, cats, and exotic birds, among others. The process works similar to health insurance for people and the rates will be based on the same types of information regarding your animal as would affect your personal health insurance premiums.
Obviously, if your pet has preexisting conditions or extenuating health problems, you will pay more for coverage than if your pet is healthy. Also, if the conditions are serious, you may be denied coverage. Unlike regulations for humans, though, there are no regulations which require coverage to be extended to all animals, so you would not have many options after a denial. You could still apply for coverage with another pet insurer, but most companies will have the same limits and requirements.
Pet insurance tends to be very inexpensive. Many policies will provide up to $500 of per-incident pet insurance for around $15 per month. Deductions will apply as well, but those are generally around $50. Deductible and plan rates will vary by insurer and the type of pet being insured.
One major difference between pet insurance and human health coverage is that pet insurance is rarely sold as an HMO-style health insurance policy. That means that instead of having to choose your vet from an insurance network, you are free to use your coverage at any vet in the country. Another difference is that you will be required to pay for the vet out of pocket. Instead of making the payments for you, as health insurance does, pet insurance requires you to pay the bill and then reimburses you for the costs.