This article could be titled Vets Turning Away Patients Who Can’t Pay Upfront. Or, perhaps, a better title would be Vets Use Tough Methods To Ensure Payment. This appears to be a US discussion. I live in the UK and the vets I have used have always expected payment on completion. There is never any hint of asking for payment upfront. Is payment upfront unheard of in the UK?
Veterinarians sometimes feel that they have to protect their business by insisting that payment or part payment is made upfront. On other occasions vets will retain your cat or dog after treating her if payment is not made on completion of the treatment as a means of forcing payment. That is a tough approach. I am not sure it is enforceable unless the veterinarian provided the customer with a contract that stated their animal could be retained. Technically, it is called a “lien”.
Some vets might also call Animal Control if the cat or dog’ s owner does not collect their companion animal after treatment because they cannot afford to pay for the treatment. Yes, some pet owners do this, unbelievably. You can see how difficult it can be for a vet on occasions. We know that some people (rarely, hopefully) ask their vet to euthanize their healthy companion animal or they relinquish their animal to their vet.
I have a feeling that sometimes there is a clash between unscrupulous customers who do not want to pay promptly and properly after treatment and hope to get away with it by simply not paying after treatment and then relying on the fact that the veterinarian will be forced, out of a moral duty, to hand over their animal. The customer will move on to another vet if treatment is required again. It is like a hotel guest not paying and walking out. What can the business owner do?
On the other side of the coin, the veterinarian is working in a competitive environment and if he is recently qualified he will have acquired lots of debt incurred to fund his training (it costs more and more to train). The debt puts pressure on the veterinarian to protect his financial interests and to make sure that he can pay his overheads. Also the veterinary market place in the USA has become more competitive recently, apparently. My impression is that there are more vets chasing not enough work.
As far as I’m aware, there is quite a low uptake in pet insurance and therefore insurance does not provide a solution to many of these payment problems.
In addition to unscrupulous customers who have no intention of paying and who may even leave their cat or dog behind if the amount charged is too high due to unforeseen complications, there are customers who are on tight budgets and you don’t really have the financial means to pay for a veterinarian’s service.
I get the feeling that quite a lot of people who keep companion animals are on modest incomes and don’t have much in the way of savings. They have to rely on a veterinarian who himself may be under financial pressure. There you have a potential problem because on one side there is a person wishing to save as much money as possible and on the other side there is a person who wishes to make as much money as possible and both interests are understandable.
What are your experiences with veterinarians and payment?