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Posted By Christine Shupe, Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Are preventive care plans catching on?


We know our clients love their pets. The Internet is filled with vines, memes and social media posts featuring four-legged stars being cute, sassy, fierce and silly. To ensure these pets remain around a long time, it’s important that pet owners maintain their pet’s long term health by committing to preventive healthcare. Preventive pet care plans can make it effortless to practice preventive care, but how many practices are offering this valuable service to clients?



VHMA surveyed practice managers and asked if their practice offered preventive care plans. Of the 261 respondents surveyed, only 20% offered pay-by-the-month preventive care plans. More than half who offered these plan have been doing so for two years or less. Practices that do not offer plans explained that it is because the practice lacks the expertise (32%) and/or resources (24%) to manage the plans.


Fifty-five percent of practices with plans cover services only. Forty-one percent said the plans provide for services and products. Only 4% reported that the plans applied to products only.



Do practices offer clients a financial incentive to enroll in preventive healthcare plans? With 33% reporting that the service in the plan are not discounted, the real benefit of opting into the plan appears to be the convenience of making monthly payments. Nineteen percent said they offered a discount between 1-10%, and 23% discounted services between 11-20%. Six percent of respondents offered a strong incentive to clients—a discount of between 41-50% on the services included in the plan!


As for the number of plans available in a practice, the more the merrier seems to be the prevailing sentiment. Thirty four percent offered nine or more plans and 25% offered between six and eight plans.


The plans tend to managed in-house (56%). The 25% who said that a third-party managed the plans, indicated that the third-party was primarily responsible for payment processing (95%), contract templates (86%) and team training (71%).



Overall, respondents believed the benefits provided by the plans included: budgeting convenience, more patient visits and healthier pets.


On the downside, respondents complained that clients confuse the plans with insurance programs. Clients have been slow to embrace the concept – between one and five percent of a practice’s clients sign up for the plans.


Some practices have suffered financially because price increases on product and services have not been incorporated into the price of the monthly plans.


As a concept, preventive care plans make sense---a prescribed schedule for treatment, manageable monthly payments, and healthier pet. But between concept and acceptance, a wide gulf exists that is interfering with practice’s ability and willingness to offer these plans and the client’s willingness to buy into the plans.

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