Clients Have Hard Time Paying for Pet Care in Hurting Economy
Amid looming unemployment, some veterinarians are seeing more clients who are unable to pay for their pets’ care.
“We have the impression that the people coming in are situationally under duress—the hopefully temporarily poor,” Dr. Jeff Rosenthal, CEO at the Idaho Humane Society, told the AVMA. “Qualitatively, our impression is we have a whole lot more people in our communities who can’t afford care.”
The overall national unemployment rate in April was 14.7%, although the numbers did look better in May: The Labor Department reported a 13.3% unemployment rate in May, an improvement of 2.5 million jobs, though still higher than any previous postwar recession. Economists warned that despite the good news, there’s a long way to go for the economy to recover.
According to experts at the AVMA, it’s important for veterinarians to work with clients to make care affordable. “Discounting is an option, but it is not ideal,” said Matthew Salois, chief economist in the association’s Veterinary Economics Division. “Instead, work with clients to inform them and help them understand other options including deferred payment, extended payment plans, and finance options like credit with possible preferred interest rates, and of course there is pet insurance.”
Several groups, from the American Veterinary Medical Foundation to Mars to smaller service organizations, have committed to help increase care access for pet owners experiencing financial hardship. But it’s unclear how long funding will last for these groups.
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