CareCredit accepted at veterinary college’s three teaching hospitals
Clients of Virginia Tech’s three veterinary hospitals now have a new way to pay.
Financing pets’ veterinary care through CareCredit has been available since April at all three of the hospitals of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine: the Animal Cancer Care and Research Center in Roanoke, the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg, and the Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Blacksburg.
“Our hope is that with CareCredit, more of our clients will be able to pay for the services that their pet needs,” said Drema Foster, director of clinical business operations for the veterinary college. “That has been a real challenge. We have offered payment plans, but those have been short term, three or four months. Now they can finance through CareCredit for up to 60 months. It gives our clients a lot more options.”
CareCredit, issued by Synchrony Bank, is a credit card that can be used to cover out-of-pocket expenses not paid by insurance or other means for both human and pet health care. This can allow larger expenses to be paid in smaller increments over longer periods of time than most other payment options.
Virginia Tech’s veterinary hospitals embrace the “spectrum of care” concept, in which options are offered for animal health care that better fit each individual client’s ability to pay. The acceptance of CareCredit will widen some clients’ ability to pay for more intensive, but more expensive, veterinary care.
“It could have the potential to bring us more owners who might be willing to move forward with treatment,” said Joanne Tuohy, assistant professor in surgical oncology for the veterinary college who performs cancer surgery for dogs and cats at both the teaching hospital and cancer center. “When we get a referral, our client care coordinators call them and give an estimate for an initial appointment with us. And some of them say, ‘No, we can't come, we just simply can't afford it.’ I think we can help more owners and their pets with cancer as some of those owners may end up coming because they have a payment option.”
The availability of CareCredit also will help some clients pay for unexpected dire situations involving the animals they love.
“People are often not prepared for catastrophic things that happen to their pets, such as being hit by a car or a horse that has colic,” Foster said. “All of a sudden, you have a bill you were not expecting. That's why we try to educate our clients now before they need it. You’re coming in for a yearly visit, why not go ahead and apply for CareCredit now. It can be used for everything from the basic vaccine to a farm visit, an emergency, major surgery, or cancer treatment.
“The last thing you want to deal with when your patient is in an emergency situation is to worry about how you're going to pay for treatment,” Foster said. “And I've seen too many clients have to make a difficult decision because they didn't have the funds to pay.”
While clients are being informed about how to apply for CareCredit, faculty and staff at the three veterinary hospitals are finding that many clients already have CareCredit for the health care needs of themselves and their families.
“There are a lot of veterinary clients that already are qualified for CareCredit,” said April Hylton, assistant dean for personnel and administration at the veterinary college. “It’s something that they've been asking about for a long time. It gives another option for our clients so that they're able to pay their bill, and the more options they have, the more likely they are to spend money on the treatments that they need for their pets.”
“Now, when I talk to owners about diagnostic and treatment options, I am able to tell them, ‘We now have CareCredit,’ which they really liked to hear,” Tuohy said. “Because previously, before we had CareCredit set up, some owners would ask, ‘Do you take CareCredit?’ And I always had to say no and it was sad knowing that without CareCredit, some owners simply could not afford diagnostics or treatment.”
Offering CareCredit has been a goal of the veterinary hospitals for more than a decade, but contract talks between the university and CareCredit finally met success this year.
Hylton credits “Drema’s perseverance, her persistence, her unwillingness to accept no as an answer” for closing the deal with CareCredit.
Foster started working at the teaching hospital’s front desk as a 16-year-old in 1986. Her now 37-year Virginia Tech career returned to the teaching hospital in 2014 and she has since become director of clinical business operations for the veterinary college.
“She has such a great history at Virginia Tech, she’s been in so many different departments, she’s worked in the Bursar’s Office,” Hylton said. “She knows from the university side of things what it takes to make a partnership like this happen. … And that’s the reason why we were finally able to get a contract with CareCredit, and to be able to offer this to our clients.”