“…[when pet] owners can’t afford to do all the diagnostics and treatment that would be the gold standard, euthanasia is the only option.”
This is a quote from a veterinarian in an article we recently read. But it’s something we’ve heard many times before. Too many times to count, in fact.
And it’s a statement with which we STRONGLY DISAGREE.
We believe euthanasia should NEVER be the “only option.”
As a corollary to that, we also believe in offering pet owners a more financially realistic “spectrum of care” approach to diagnostics and treatment, as opposed to an inflexible “gold standard,” with an attached cost that is often vastly out of reach.
But what about pet insurance, some may ask? Pet insurance, as it is currently structured, does not help with the upfront, out-of-pocket cost of veterinary care.
Pet insurance uses a reimbursement-only model, unlike human health insurance, which protects people from the financial devastation of having to come up with thousands of dollars on the spot.
(Yes, we are aware there are exceptions. Trupanion offers a Direct Pay option, where the veterinarian receives payment from Trupanion and the pet owner pays a reasonable co-pay. But this requires that the veterinarian be a participant in Trupanion’s network, and that the pet owner carry Trupanion insurance. These two requirements don’t match up very often.)
What about third-party credit options, like CareCredit, or even the new kid on the block, Scratchpay? This is a great choice for the minority of individuals who are approved (only about 40%.) But even if a pet parent is approved, their line of credit may not be enough to cover the entire cost of care. How will they pay for the uncovered balance?
What about charitable grants? These too can be helpful, but keep in mind, the pet owner must submit an application, and resources are very limited. The amount awarded often falls far short of the funds needed, so an owner may have to apply for several grants.
This is time-consuming and something they may not have the luxury of doing in an emergency.
Finally, what about crowdfunding? Another good option, but raising funds also takes time, and there is no guarantee that a campaign will be fully funded.
Pet owners are competing for attention with hundreds of others seeking a crowdfunding solution for their own situation. If they don’t raise all the funds needed, how will they pay for the rest?
We believe that the best-case scenario is when every single one of these options can be leveraged TOGETHER, and paired with an installment payment plan.
We have reached a point where the cost of veterinary care is becoming increasingly out of reach for the ordinary pet owner.
We have reached a point where a single solution approach is no longer the answer.
We have reached a point where loving and devoted pet owners have grown weary of hearing “if you can’t afford your vet bill, you shouldn’t have a pet.”
This is a short-sighted and heartless knee-jerk response to a complicated, nuanced, and heartbreakingly common problem.
We must do better. We must have better answers than this.
We are talking about family members who need medical care, and we must all start thinking more creatively about how to make this care more financially accessible to families who need help.
When affordability is an issue – as it often is when a pet owner is looking at hundreds or thousands of dollars in treatment costs – a spectrum of care approach, combined with a pay-over-time option, can save the lives of many treatable pets. We know it works. We see it all the time here at VetBilling®.
Euthanasia and surrender should NEVER BE THE ONLY OPTIONS.