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If you were raised like I was, your mother probably taught you that it was impolite to talk about money in courteous company. But I’m here to tell you that such civilized niceties have a way of flying out the window when your pet is sick.
It’s true; talking frankly about finances can be uncomfortable for both pet owners and veterinarians. Still, pets unknowingly depend on a healthy relationship between their veterinarian and their owner for sound decision making about their veterinary care.
The rising cost of pet care — on everything from high-end diets and pricey training to specialized veterinary care and cutting-edge drugs — means that most pet owners are at some point likely to find themselves confronting a discomfiting reality: The science and technology to help our patients may be available, but they may not always be accessible. Money may unfortunately intervene.
Despite this inconvenient truth, pet owners probably have more power than they think they do when it comes to getting their money's worth at the vet clinic.
Here’s why: It’s generally understood that pet owners who are better able to explain their personal financial situations are more likely to achieve their health care goals within their budget.
With that in mind, I thought it might be nice to offer you a checklist of useful approaches to “the money talk.” After all, it’s inevitable. Because unless you’re a Gates or a Buffett of sorts, you’ll be talking cash with your clinician at some point in your pet’s future.
To that end, here are seven great tips to help you talk positively about money with your family veterinarian:
1. Remember that your veterinarian is a person, too. Believe it or not, we pay for veterinary care for our pets, too. While we want the best for your pet, it's usually not in our power to give away or discount services, tests or medications. What we can do is help determine how to put the funds you have to efficient use to help achieve the best outcome for your pet.
2. Communicate your goals and priorities. Talking money is stressful. We get that. After all, in many cases you’re effectively telling us that you don’t make as much money as you wish you did. (How stressful is that in this culture?)
But despite your financial limitations, we also know that everyone has different priorities. If a cure (when possible) is your priority and you want a pull-out-all-the-stops approach, even if it means an organ transplant, that's helpful for us to know. If, however, you simply want to alleviate pain and keep your pet comfortable, let us know that, too. There's typically no right or wrong answer here, as long as your pet isn't suffering.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
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