Veterinarians: What Would You Do If Offering 3rd-Party Financing Was Against the Law?

What if, starting tomorrow, state law barred you from offering CareCredit® at your practice?

You might be saying “What? Why wouldn’t I be able to offer CareCredit®? That would never happen!”

But it actually could.

Just last month, the State of California passed SB-639, which places numerous restrictions on offering third-party deferred-interest credit products like CareCredit®.

The new law mandates that before a client applies for CareCredit® or similar products, veterinarians (as well as dentists, orthodontists, chiropractors, cosmetic surgeons, etc.) MUST provide the following:

— A written estimate of the total cost of services;

— A written or electronic notice that fully discloses how deferred-interest credit products work, so pet owners are fully aware of the risk of significant additional interest and penalties when payments aren’t made on time or if they can’t pay their balance off within a specified period;

— A written disclosure stating that the pet owner does NOT have to choose this payment option because other options are available.

BUT….

What if your practice has no other payment option to offer?

Where do you go from there?

You might want to start thinking about this sooner rather than later, as more and more consumer credit protection laws are being passed in state legislatures across the nation.

Many of these new laws limit or restrict the ways that 3rd-party deferred-interest credit options can be presented to your clients.

Some of the proposed legislation seeks to prohibit veterinarians and other medical providers from offering third-party deferred-interest credit products ALTOGETHER.

These products are increasingly coming under scrutiny because pet owners often don’t grasp exactly how deferred-interest financing plans work.

The tricky part is that while pet owners enjoy that zero percent interest rate for a period of time (while it is “deferred”), when the introductory period is up, they will not only pay a higher rate (which is to be expected), but they will also face deferred interest.

Deferred interest provisions allow companies like CareCredit® to charge interest on the entire original balance, regardless of how much is paid off during the introductory period.

For example, if a pet owner puts $1,000 on their deferred-interest card and pays off $900 by the end of the introductory period (often 6 months), the new 26.99% interest rate will be charged not on the remaining $100 balance, but on the original $1,000.

Which means the pet owner will end up paying $269.90 in interest on a $100 remaining balance.

That extra interest adds up to an unexpected burden for the pet owner, who thought he or she was doing something to help with their vet bills.

Somehow that doesn’t seem at all fair.

To add insult to injury, many pet owners are encouraged to sign up for 3rd-party deferred interest financing products while their pet is awaiting services in a treatment room.

Without the time and means to research alternatives, and under such stressful circumstances, pet owners often don’t fully understand what they are signing up for.

While 3rd-party financing options like CareCredit® may well have a place in your practice – they can be helpful tools for the approximately 40% of pet owners who are approved – it might be a good time to look into what other kinds of payment options you can offer.

Alternative financing arrangements such as those offered by VetBilling® are simple, transparent, and easy for pet owners to understand.

VetBilling® payment plans allow pet owners to pay over time – just like CareCredit® – but VetBilling’s fees are fixed and upfront. Pet owners are never surprised by additional interest or hidden fees.

Plus, your practice is in control of all approvals – we make it easy for you to qualify pet owners using our secure, cloud-based web software.

The decision about who to help is no longer in the hands of a disinterested 3rd party.

It’s back in your hands.

YOU decide when to extend a payment plan, and what the terms will be, based on your relationship with the client and their pet.

Doesn’t this sound like the kind of sound back-up plan you’d like to have in place at your practice?

For more information about how VetBilling® can help you and your clients, give us a call at 800-766-1918, Monday – Friday, between 9am and 6pm Eastern.

Or visit our website at https://vetbilling.com/how-it-works/

 

 

 

Additional sources:
— Western Center on Law & Poverty: “Medical Credit Cards Purport To Ease Medical Cost Burdens, But End Up Creating Stress. A New Western Center-Sponsored Bill Could Change That”
https://wclp.org/medical-credit-cards-purport-to-ease-medi…/

“Californians fall prey to high interest credit card loans while in exam chairs:
Here’s a fix”
https://calmatters.org/commentary/medical-credit-cardss/

California Senate Bill 639: Bill Text – Medical Services Credit or Loan
https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/fa…/billTextClient.xhtml…

 

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