Can’t Afford Vet Care? Here Are Some Solutions
A few years ago I needed to take CG to the ER. They told me he would need to stay a few days, and before I left for the night, they presented me with a bill. Part needed to be paid then, the rest was an estimate for the total cost of his care and stay.
That was the moment when I literally had to put a price on CG. I went home that night thinking about my limit — the total amount I was financially and emotionally OK with spending on him. The estimate was within my comfort zone, but it easily could have been much more. Fortunately, I had enough to cover all of his bills, but that’s not always the case.
None of us wants to think about putting a price on our pet’s life, but there’s always the possibility that at some point or another we’ll have to do just that. No matter if times are tough financially or if an unexpected situation results in a huge vet bill — or several — we may be faced with the inability to pay for vet care.
And that’s when things get really tough — we don’t want to deny our pet the care it needs, but sometimes we just don’t have the money to cover certain expenses.
If you’re facing a situation like that, you may have a number of options. The Humane Society of the United States has a number of recommendations for those who may have trouble paying for a vet’s bill.
Pet Insurance: Granted this is a preventative measure, but it may be one that you want to consider. (Note: Some pet insurance companies may not cover certain conditions like cerebellar hypoplasia; others may cover CH cats, but the plans may not cover any situation that was caused by the CH.)
Helpful Groups: There are groups around the country that offer veterinary care assistance. Others provide free or low-cost spay or neuter services. You can check out this list of groups that offer help, this list may help you find a free or low-cost spay or neuter.
Work with Veterinarians: If you’re facing hard times, be honest with your vet. You may be able to negotiate a solution that works for the both of you. For example:
- If your vet is familiar with you, they may be OK with negotiating a payment plan. This may not work if you’re at a vet you’ve never visited before.
- Ask if you can exchange a service, such as cleaning kennels or answering phones, to help pay off some of the bill.
If you’ve been given an estimate for a necessary procedure, consider going to another vet to get a second opinion. You’ll pay a visit fee, but the service or solution may be less expensive.
- Visit smaller towns, veterinary schools, or your local shelter (if it has a clinic). They may charge lower fees.
Make Some Cash: You may also be able to take proactive steps in your own life to raise some extra cash. Some ideas include having a yard sale, asking for cash instead of birthday or holiday presents, selling things on sites like eBay, taking on a second job, etc.
Raise Some Funds: They also suggest that you look into a credit card or bank loan that can help you during your time of need. One, Care Credit, is intended specifically for human — and pet — health expenses. It’s accepted by many veterinarians, so you may want to check if it’s accepted by yours. They also suggest looking into self-fundraising platforms like GiveForward, where you can raise funds for your pet’s medical care.
Do you have any other recommendations? Please share in the comments.