Currently, 78% of U.S. workers---that’s 4 in 5 workers---live paycheck to paycheck. According to CareerBuilder research, this percentage has increased 3% in a one-year period.
As the number of people who are financially vulnerable and unprepared to cover unexpected expenses has accelerated, the number of pet owners has also increased and, according to The Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study, the number of active patients per veterinarian has declined. These trends are concerning because they suggest that pets may not be receiving necessary care and immunizations on time and as recommended because their owners cannot afford veterinary care.
To address clients’ financial concerns and ensure the health and well-being of the patient, it has become increasingly common for practices to implement preventive pet healthcare payment plans. With a focus on compliance with preventive care protocols, these plans can help stave off serious illnesses and health complications.
Payment plans in the veterinary industry
Regardless of the business, small and large companies often deal with clients with cash flow problems. Payment plans are widely used in the U.S., and according to Pew Charitable Trusts, more than 10 million Americans pay for goods or services using installment plans.
In the veterinary world, it is heartbreaking when pet owners cannot afford care---whether it’s emergency care or preventive care---for their pets. The pet suffers, the owner suffer, veterinary staff suffers, and the business suffers. Offering preventive pet healthcare payment plans makes it possible for pet owners to commit to a year of preventive services with the convenience of paying for those services in manageable payments over twelve months.
Who benefits from a preventive payment plan?
Payment plans benefit everyone. Patients benefit by receiving regularly scheduled care and immunizations that can circumvent serious health issues further down the road and lead to better overall health. The client or owner benefits because the pet is healthier, and they are not hit with one big bill. The practice benefits by knowing that the pet will receive health and wellness services on time and according to protocol. And pet owners seem to be receptive to these plans. The Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study found that 45% of pet owners would use veterinary services for their pets if wellness program plans billed in installments were available.
Are all plans created equal?
When selecting a plan to offer clients, it’s important to do your homework and find out what is available. Some of the issues that should be considered are:
- How many plans to offer and should these plans be designed specifically for felines, canines, and juvenile, adult, and senior pets.
- Which services will be covered and what is the range of services that will be offered, for example, basic, intermediate, or premium.
- Pricing issues that cover the cost of services and whether an enrollment fee will be charged.
- Should additional or complimentary services be offered to participants to sweeten the deal?
- Determine how fees be collected, for example, practice-based systems, payment processing services, or full-service preventive healthcare plan companies.
When it’s time to move forward
If a preventive healthcare payment plan works for the practice, taking care of the preliminaries is just the start. To ensure the plans are understood and used, practices must market the plans to clients, establish goals to gauge performance and train staff to implement the plans.
If your practice is interested in improving services and ensuring that preventive care is a number one priority, then it is time to explore preventive payment plans. To get started go to Partners for Healthy Pets for more information.
To learn more about strategically pricing your preventive care plan check out VHMA’s Best Practice Tool: SUBSCRIPTION PRICING.