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  • Questions and answers about pet finance

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RSA Insurance

For years, we’ve been saying to each other within the veterinary industry that the steady inflation of veterinary prices and especially the steady inflation of referral practice prices is just not sustainable. It has been obvious that it would lead to more and more clients not being able to afford their escalating insurance premiums, or to the insurers having to place caps on their liabilities and cover, to the detriment of pets and their owners. We’ve seen both of these occurring year on year.

The RSA insurance group which underwrites More Than, Marks and Spencer and John Lewis insurance policies has led the way with a strategy to address this looming problem. They have put together a group of referral practices, their “preferred providers” that includes specialists and advanced practitioners covering a range of veterinary disciplines across the country. These allow pet owners to get a quality referral service, while keeping a limit on ongoing costs for the insurer. The aim of the RSA network is to provide a quality service that will be sustainable and so will be there for the generations to come.

We are proud to be one of the RSA preferred providers.

Does West Midland Referrals extend credit?

Unfortunately we are not able to extend credit. Our fees are exceptionally competitive, and we can only keep them that way by requesting payment at the time of treatment. If you will have difficulty settling your account at the time of surgery, please raise this with reception and with the admitting vet before the procedure. We will try our best to find a way of accommodating your needs, but any negotiation on payment or price MUST be in advance of the procedure, not afterwards.

Does West Midland Referrals take cheques?

Unfortunately we can’t accept cheques, but we do accept debit cards, credit cards or cash.

Can you claim directly from my insurer?

We will often be able to claim direct from your insurance company. If you think that you may want to take advantage of this, please make sure that you raise this with us in good time. Insurance companies will often need a few days to agree to fund a procedure. For elective (non-emergency) procedures we need any direct claim to be authorised by your insurer in advance. For emergency procedures there may not be time for such formalities, but please make sure that you discuss your desire for a direct insurance claim with the surgeon at the time of consultation/admission.

We can’t offer direct insurance claims for sums under £300 (eg for consultation or for a course of laser therapy) so please have be sure to have means of payment with you for these relatively small sums. We can still process an insurance claim form for you though, so you will be reimbursed by them according to your policy details.

If you want us to make a direct insurance claim, please still have the means of settling your insurance excess with you when you come to see us. Even if you have already paid this excess at your own vets, it is our experience that insurers usually subtract the excess from the claims that we submit because our claim often gets to your insurer before the one from your own vets. We then end up wasting time chasing up owners for the payment of the excess fee. If you settle your excess with us and it then isn’t deducted from our claim, we promise to reimburse you promptly once we have received payment from your insurer.

I’m insured. Will you help me with my insurance claim?

Yes. If you will be making an insurance claim, please speak to our admin team in advance of your appoitnment and they will help you. We process insurance claim forms very promptly so that you are remunerated as soon as possible by your insurer, and we make no charge for processing insurance paperwork.

I’ve heard that West Midlands Referrals offer fixed prices. What does this mean?

When we opened in 2011, fixed price surgery was a “new” idea in the veterinary referral world. Those practices offering fixed prices were very few and far between. A few are now following the trend with fixed prices for some procedures like cruciate ligament surgeries, but we are proud to say that our fixed prices for cruciate surgeries are extremely competitive – well under 50% – of what is sometimes being charged elsewhere. We are able to offer this value for money because our complication rates are low. Our fixed prices for surgical cases includes all follow up checks with us in normal working hours, and all post-operative radiography with us.

For most medicine cases, follow up consults are often chargeable, as some of these cases can’t be “fixed” by surgery, and need ongoing checks well into the future. Please ask whether your case is likely to need ongoing checks and what ongoing charges are expected. 

We offer fixed prices for almost all of our surgery cases, not just the common elective procedures like cruciate ligament injury. 

These fixed prices assume that payment is made before discharge and the fixed price includes:

  • Referral consultation.
  • Hospitalisation on the day of surgery. Overnight hospitalisation and ongoing hospitalisation is chargeable. 
  • Digital radiography, as many exposures as required, including follow up radiography for the same problem. We put no limit on the number of radiographic exposures that we will take to follow up the same problem, and these can be on an unlimited number of occasions.
  • Anaesthesia, with pre-op blood checks and intravenous fluid therapy as standard.
  • Patient monitoring with advanced multiparameter equipment throughout as standard.
  • Surgery, surgical consumables, catheters & implants.
  • Analgesia, anti-inflammatory & routine antibiotic therapy to cover the patient’s needs over the first 5 days post-op.
  • Elizabethan collars to prevent wound interference and initial post-operative dressings.
  • For surgical cases, our fixed prices include all subsequent post-operative check-ups with us in normal working hours for the same problem. We put no limit on the number of these check ups. For most medicine cases, follow up consults are often chargeable, as some of these cases can’t be “fixed” by surgery, and need ongoing checks well into the future. Please ask whether your case is likely to need ongoing checks and what ongoing charges are expected. 

 

We don’t make annoying additions to your bill for the odd extra dressing here or for an extra dressing there.

We don’t make extra charges for drips, or extra charges for processing insurance claim forms. We can usually manage to obtain follow up radiographs with your pet unsedated, but if we need to sedate them to get images, we usually wouldn’t make any further charge for the sedation if chemical restraint would normally be required for patients to get diagnostic views (eg for hip xrays).

For most cases such as cruciate ligament ruptures, joint replacements, most fractures, ear canal surgery, laryngeal surgery etc etc we agree a fixed price in advance. If we are sent the case history, photos and radiographs, we can often do this before we even see the pet!

So what isn’t covered by the fixed price scheme?!

  • Anything that is done at or by another practice is chargeable by them, including check up consults, suture removal, hosptialisation, x-rays, blood tests, dressings, scans, provision of further medications etc etc.
  • Our fixed prices don’t include medication beyond the first routine re-check which is usually 3-5 days post-operatively and this first re-check will often be at your normal veterinary practice. So any on-going drugs required (eg antibiotic and anti-inflammatory) would usually be supplied by the referring general practice and would be chargeable by them.
  • Fixed prices don’t typically include the costs of pathology investigations like blood tests or histopathology carried out by external laboratories unless these tests were something expected as part of the procedure, when the inclusion of these costs within the fixed price will need to have been specifically agreed in advance.
  • Fixed prices don’t include prolonged inpatient care or overnight hospital care.
  • There may be a need to make additional charges in the event that the patient requires unexpected intensive care or very close/continuous supervision in the post-operative period.
  • Our fixed prices don’t typically include revision surgery, or surgery to remove implants when this is required unless we have agreed this in advance. It is the nature of surgery that complications will occur from time to time. However we pride ourselves on being accessible, reasonable and generous to assist with any further surgery that is required.
  • We aren't a general practice and have a more limited pharmacy availabilty than most general practices. So we don't stock certain anti-biotics for example, and may require owners to purchase these at thier own additional expense from their own vet.
  • For most medicine cases, follow up consults are often chargeable, as some of these cases can’t be “fixed” by surgery, and need ongoing checks well into the future. Please ask whether your case is likely to need ongoing checks and what ongoing charges are expected. 

We reserve the right to make charges for any sedation that is required for interventions like dressings or X-rays where we would not normally expect to need to sedate patients (ie where we would usually expect a patient to tolerate redresses and/or xrays).

So we reserve the right to charge for sedation where, because of patient nerves or aggression, we have to give sedation for the safety of staff and/or for the protection of the patient (eg to avoid over-stressing fracture repairs during the early healing process). Fixed prices may need to be surcharged if an individual patient has special medical needs, for example if they are diabetic.

We reserve the price to charge for extra dressings if the dressing hasn't been protected from mutilation by the use of an Elizabethan collar. 

Our general anaesthetic fees include pre-operative biochemistry and haematology checks; if there is a need for follow up blood tests (eg because of abnormalities detected) these would be chargeable.

Some cases (eg portosystemic shunts) are advised to have follow up blood tests and/or ultrasound scans several weeks post-op to assess the success of the procedure and these are chargeable. Such blood tests might be done at the referring general practice. 

Fixed prices may need to be surcharged if there is a need for unexpected extra care like blood transfusions for example. Please rest assured that the need for an unexpected blood transfusion is very, very rare!

If you think you are going to struggle to pay the bill, please be sure to ask in advance of the procedure being performed, and we’ll see what we can do to help.

For more information please feel free to get in touch.