Q: How do we tell clients we can't help them when they can't pay for the care their pet receives?
When clients schedule appointments, explain payment is due when you perform the services. Then describe the forms of payment you accept, such as cash, checks, credit cards, and third-party payment plans. Communicating your policy up front will discourage many potential clients looking for free care.
You can also prepare for pet owners who can't pay by establishing a compassionate care fund, recommending pet insurance, and giving each doctor an allowance that he or she can donate to needy clients to help defer the cost of care.
If an established client claims she didn't know your payment policy, consider these solutions:
If you learn an existing client is experiencing a difficult financial situation, you also may consider creating a deferred payment agreement that both parties sign, List says. And as a last resort, you might allow the client to work off the bill by cleaning cages, maintaining the building and property, or providing other services the practice needs.