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7 Ways To Make Trips To The Emergency Vet More Affordable
An unexpected trip to the emergency vet is nightmarish enough without worrying about how you’ll pay for your pet’s care!
Did you know that the average cost for an emergency vet visit is between $800 and $1,500? Depending on what diagnostic tests are required and what the treatment entails, your bill could quickly skyrocket to be thousands of dollars. For example, a torn ACL is the most common knee injury that dogs and cats suffer from and the cost for the necessary surgery to correct this is a minimum of $3,500 on average. Plus, even exams completed at emergency vet clinics can be more expensive than a routine wellness exam at your normal vet because of the urgency with which they are conducted, and also the fact that they make take place outside of normal business hours.
As you can probably tell, when we talk about emergency vet care we are referring to unexpected medical conditions, injuries, poisonings, allergic reactions, difficulty breathing, or illnesses that need to be addressed immediately. These aren’t conditions that can wait for a scheduled appointment at your normal veterinarian’s office at a later date. To be frank, when certain medical emergencies pop up for our pets and aren’t addressed immediately, the results could be fatal. But if you simply don’t have the funds available at the moment to pay for more than your pet’s routine vet care, a trip to the emergency vet might feel like you’re choosing between saving your pet’s life or preserving your financial wellbeing. Luckily, you won’t have to make those tough choices because emergency vet care may be more affordable than you’d think when you use one of the following seven payment options.
Discuss payment options with your vet.
Depending on how urgent your pet’s treatment protocol needs to take place, the staff at the emergency vet will provide you with an estimate of what their services will likely cost. Unless your pet is in an immediate life or death situation, you will likely have to approve the estimate before treatment can begin. If you know the bill is going to be too much for you, use this as an opportunity to ask your veterinarian’s office about available financial aid options and payment plans. If you are polite and honest about your situation, many clinics will be happy to work with you.
While you of course want your pet to have all the care they need, you can also confirm that all diagnostic tests and treatments are truly necessary at this time. If it’s possible for you to prioritize certain tests or procedures to try to eliminate others, your pet won’t have to go through as much stressful medical testing and this will help lower the cost of your emergency vet visit. That said, your pet could still require more diagnostic testing, procedures, or treatments if the initial protocol isn’t successful or your vet deems everything on the estimate to be completely necessary.
Make a claim with your pet insurance.
Similar to health insurance, pet insurance exists to protect you financially during your pet’s medical emergencies so you can get them the care they need with no hesitation. Depending on which insurance provider you choose and how comprehensive you want your pet’s policy to be, you will pay a reasonable monthly payment to have your pet covered for accidents, illnesses, and/or wellness vet visits. After your emergency vet visit, you’ll be able to submit your bill to your insurance for reimbursement. Although you will have to front the cost upfront, you’ll at least get a significant portion of your money back.
Use CareCredit to pay your bill.
If you’ve truly found yourself in a bind, you could open a new line of credit to help cover your pet’s veterinary bills. However, this is a solution we’d be hesitant to recommend because opening new lines of credit give you more room to fall into debt, which we don’t want to happen. That said, if a new line of credit is the only way your pet can have lifesaving treatment, the way to do it is with CareCredit. CareCredit is a health care credit card that is meant to pay for medical treatment for humans, but it also provides financing options for veterinary care for struggling pet parents. It allows pet owners to pay off large veterinary bills over the course of 6, 12, 18, or 24 months with no interest as long as the card is paid in full within the promotional period and if a $200 minimum in purchases has been made. The card is only meant to be used for health care or veterinary care, and can’t be used to buy standard pet supplies like food, toys, treats, and grooming supplies. If you think you may want to use CareCredit to help pay for your pet’s veterinary care, find out more and easily apply online here.
Search for nonprofit aid.
If you are having trouble paying your pet’s veterinary bills, consider turning to local animal non-profits for help. While some animal rescue organizations will only help your pet if you surrender it to the organization, most want to keep pets in their homes and out of overcrowded animal shelters. Therefore, nonprofits may be willing and able to provide funding for your pet’s care, partial financial aid, some free procedures, discounted veterinary care, and other useful resources that may help you heal your pet.
Dip into your emergency savings fund.
If you don’t already have an emergency savings fund for your pet, let this article be your sign to start one. Every month, try to put at least $50, if not more, into a savings account that is set aside in the event your pet needs emergency medical treatment or a major procedure, such as surgery. Rather than making a payment to a pet insurance provider or payment plan, you can be paying yourself each month by letting your money sit and collect interest that benefits you while it waits to be needed. While we hope your pet never suffers from a medical emergency, you’ll be grateful to have at least some finances put into place to cover their care if that day ever arrives.
Get a personal loan.
If you don’t want to open a new credit card and don’t have the funds to pay for your pet’s emergency vet visit, you may want to consider obtaining a personal loan. Personal loans can range in amounts from $1,000 to more than $50,000, with some lenders approving your application and sending you the money the same day you apply. Personal loans generally have lower interest rates than credit cards, but you will need to be careful to not miss your monthly payments and to pay off your loan in the specified time frame to avoid penalties. In addition, make sure to read all the fine print carefully before signing anything to be sure you are satisfied with the terms and conditions that come with the loan.
Rely on friends and family during your time of need.
People generally have a soft spot for animals and may be willing to help you pay for your pet’s care during your time of crisis if they have the ability to do so. There is no shame in asking your friends and family for help in the form of a financial gift or loan. If they will be loaning you money, make sure to set up a contract of sorts that specifies how much they are lending you and how you will be paying it back. You can also try creating a crowdfunding campaign online through websites like Kickstarter or GoFundMe to raise the funds through social media.
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