Pay Up, Please: Getting the Money You’re Due

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The dachshund arrived at your clinic covered in dirt, grass, and blood from the numerous bite and scratch wounds across his body. He’d been hiking with his owner when an unleashed dog attacked him. His owner was hysterical, worried for her dog and angry with the attacker. 

Later, after you cleaned and stitched the wounds, prescribed medications, and instructed her on follow-up care, she expressed her concerns about cost. Emergency or unexpected veterinary care is rarely inexpensive. Your clients love their pets but also worry about finances. Offering and accepting a variety of payment and financing options can make life easier for your clients and your clinic. 

Clinic Payment Plans: Yay or Nay? 

Some clinics choose to offer clients the option of in-house financing or payment plans for hefty vet bills. While that may be an option for you to consider, understand that many clinics have dropped in-house payment plans to avoid the risk of non-payment. You may choose to offer this option on a case-by-case basis or you may skip it altogether. 

CareCredit 

CareCredit is a credit card that can be used for medical bills, human or animal. By accepting CareCredit as a payment option, you give flexibility to your customers while covering your expenses. Clients appreciate a credit card that can be used for their personal medical expenses and for the expenses incurred for their pets. You charge the card like any other credit card, getting paid for your services without the uncertainty of an in-house payment plan. Be certain your staff and clients know that opening a CareCredit account can affect their credit score. CareCredit is a hard line of credit, which means that applying for a card will affect a client’s credit; make sure your clients know this before utilizing this option. 

ScratchPay 

With ScratchPay, your client applies for an approved spending amount, financed by ScratchPay. The client then sets up a payment plan for a specified expense. Like CareCredit, this ensures that you get paid (minus a 5 percent transaction fee for each transaction), without the hassle of in-house financing. If a client fails to pay, ScratchPay assumes liability. The company will send you a kit to get started; clients apply for coverage online and get a quick decision on approval. Because ScratchPay is not a credit card, applying does not affect a person’s credit score. ScratchPay also boasts higher approval rates than most credit cards (a good option for clients with less-than-perfect credit scores). ScratchPay donates 1 percent to non-profits that serve animals. 

Pet Insurance 

Pet insurance works in a number of ways: clients can choose coverage for routine care as well as for emergency or illness care. By discussing pet insurance as an option for your clients, you can help them be better prepared if illnesses or emergencies arise. Insurance can also be used for routine examinations and vaccinations, which may increase business to your practice if clients are reminded of their coverage options and recommended examinations and treatments. Pet owners pay you directly and then submit a claim to the insurance company for reimbursement

Talk Up Payment Options Before They’re Needed

No matter how clients pay for their care, as a practice owner you’re wise to discuss options with clients. Using social media, newsletters, or marketing tools in the office will provide ways to start the conversation before an unexpected cost arises. Educate clients on the options you offer and point them to resources that fit their circumstances as well as your own. If your clients know you accept several forms of payment, you’ll set both sides – your customer and your clinic – up for success. 

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