I Need a Vet but Have No Money! Have you found yourself shouting this into the void recently? If so, you’re definitely not alone. Approximately 67% of American households own one or more pets. For many people, a dog, cat, or another type of animal can be like a best friend or even another member of the family. As a result, a pet’s medical needs are probably very important to you and your family.
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Unfortunately, like medical bills for humans, veterinary bills can get very expensive, very quickly. This means that millions of people find themselves with ailing pets and no way to pay for treatment. So, what can you do? In today’s guide, we will look at a few of the most common questions related to vet bill costs and what you can do to pay for them!
How much does pet insurance cost?
While pet insurance may seem like an extra expense that you can’t afford, it could end up saving you thousands of dollars when your pet needs care. Like standard health insurance, pet insurance costs vary by insurer and location. Additionally, your pet will play an important role when insurance providers determine your premiums and deductibles. For example, most insurers factor in the species, gender, age, and medical history of your pet when calculating insurance costs.
The cost of insurance will also depend on the level of coverage. Generally speaking, there are two kinds of pet insurance: accident and illness coverage or accident-only coverage. On average, you can expect to pay somewhere between $30-$50 per month for accident and illness coverage. Alternatively, you can expect to pay between $10-$20 per month for accident-only coverage. Like most forms of insurance, higher premiums are associated with lower deductibles — and vice versa.
What are pet wellness plans?
Pet owners often get confused between pet insurance policies and pet wellness plans. As previously mentioned, a pet insurance policy can help pay for vet bills in the event of accidents, injuries, or both. On the other hand, a pet wellness plan is a preventative type of coverage that provides reimbursements for standard veterinary care.
For example, pet wellness plans can help you pay for anticipated costs like vaccinations, dental cleanings, or general health exams. Though they are more limited than pet insurance, pet wellness plans are relatively inexpensive and can ensure that your pet gets the basic healthcare they need. You can usually expect to pay anywhere from $15-$30 per month for a pet wellness plan.
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Where can I get free veterinary care for my pet?
Fortunately, there are dozens of free and low-cost options for veterinary care throughout the United States. Many charitable organizations offer reduced or free care for basic services and vaccinations. Additionally, it’s always worth a shot to ask your local veterinary clinic about any promotions they’re running. For example, some vets designate specific dates on which you can vaccinate or neuter your pet free of charge.
That said, completely free vet care is not easy to come by. You may need to contact the local chapter of the Humane Society for additional resources. Even if you can’t secure free care for your pet, you may be able to greatly reduce medical bills by working with a charitable organization.
How much does emergency vet care cost?
If you’re short on cash but your furry friend is experiencing a medical emergency, you may not know what to do. You likely won’t have time to hunt around for a clinic that offers reduced costs or free care. Instead, you’ll probably need to rush your pet to the nearest veterinarian. So, how do you pay for it?
Thankfully, most clinics understand the difficulties of paying for veterinary bills. As a result, you can usually negotiate a payment plan to spread the cost of your bill out over time. You will likely need to pay a little extra in interest, but it could make all the difference in the world to your pet.
That being said, we haven’t really answered the question at hand. Obviously, the cost of emergency vet care will vary widely based on a lot of different factors. The type of care required will be the most important determinant. In any case, you could end up paying anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars for just one visit to the vet emergency room. However, if you combine pet insurance with a long-term payment plan, you can greatly reduce the immediate costs.
I don’t qualify for a vet payment plan. What do I do?
If you don’t qualify for a vet payment plan, you still have a few options. You can pay for your pet’s care with a credit card. However, this will simply delay the cost and add interest to the total (just like a payment plan). You will still need to make the minimum payments on your credit card and, eventually, pay down the full amount plus any accrued interest.
Another option is an emergency loan, sometimes referred to as a payday loan. However, you should generally use this as your last option. Payday lenders charge notoriously high interest rates, making it difficult to pay down your debt over time. We know that your pet is important to you, but you shouldn’t get into a financial situation that you can’t handle just to pay for a visit to the vet. So, be wary of payday loans and, if possible, try to find the funds another way.
The Bottom Line
Nobody wants their pet to be in pain or suffer needlessly. Sadly, this doesn’t take away from the reality that veterinary care is expensive. That said, there are ways to get your pet the care he or she needs without breaking the bank. You may need to extend your line of credit or work with a charitable organization, but if it means a happy and healthy pet, it will be well worth the trouble. To learn more about getting medical care for your pet when money is tight, be sure to check out our list of 24+ Resources for Free or Low Cost Veterinary Care!