In honor of World Health Day, our team wants to highlight the importance of accessible veterinary care for all pets. This year, World Health Day focused on building a fairer, healthier world, making quality health services available to everyone, when and where they need them. The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on the great inequality of human health services that leads to unnecessary suffering, avoidable illness, and premature death.

As a pet-focused complement to World Health Day’s 2021 theme, the organization AlignCare is making veterinary care accessible and financially feasible to all pet owners. We’re excited our Spokane veterinary community is embracing this initiative to help all our pets. Since AlignCare is a relatively new program, here are our answers to commonly asked questions about this incredible community support project.

Question: What is AlignCare?

Answer: AlignCare is a collaboration among the University of Tennessee, Maddie’s Fund, veterinary service providers, social service agencies, veterinary social workers, and community partners committed to family welfare through improving access to veterinary care. The program was established through the University of Tennessee with a grant from Maddie’s Fund. AlignCare was conceived as a One Health project, which means that health outcomes for humans can be improved only if animals and the environment or ecosystem are included. 

Q: What is AlignCare’s objective when it comes to pet care?

A: Using animal welfare groups, social services, public health agencies, and other professional services, AlignCare continuously builds a community fund to support pet families in need by helping to remove financial barriers.

Q: Who is eligible for financial aid through AlignCare?

A: Families are referred to AlignCare when they express the need for veterinary care to a social service agency. They must meet AlignCare’s eligibility requirements, which include: 

  • Bonded family — The family clearly views the pet as a family member and has reported feeling stressed because they cannot afford veterinary services.  
  • Need for assistance —The family can show they are income-eligible with proof of current public assistance that includes, but is not limited to, cash assistance, SNAP, SSI, WIC, Medicaid, and/or Section 8 Housing (e.g., HUD, KCDK).   
  • Willingness to partner — The family must be willing to work with the veterinary social work coordinator and the veterinary service provider. 

Essentially, if you consider your pet to be part of your family, and you are receiving financial assistance, you’re likely eligible for aid through AlignCare.

Q: How do I know if I qualify for AlignCare assistance?

A: To check whether you qualify for this financial assistance, first apply on AlignCare’s website. Communities have human support coordinators, who are usually social workers in existing community programs, to help facilitate enrollment and follow-ups, and provide overall AlignCare information. A human support coordinator will help you enroll, so you can get pet care from any registered veterinary service provider on the list, and will guide you throughout the entire process.

Q: What benefits does AlignCare provide for pet owners?

A: AlignCare understands the emotional and physical benefits pets bring to their families, and wants to support the pets in their communities to indirectly help the people. The organization is committed to providing financial support when possible, to ensure pets receive essential preventive health care. Qualified pet owners who get their pet’s care from registered veterinary service providers will be responsible for only 20% of the total bill, with AlignCare covering the other 80%. 

Your pet’s veterinary care will be based on an incremental care approach. This means that diagnosis and treatment will be provided in practical steps, rather than jumping straight to the most invasive, intensive, and costly options.

Remember, AlignCare’s goal is preventive veterinary care to help avoid serious, preventable conditions in your pet, so ask your family veterinarian whether they are AlignCare partners. As always, our Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center care team is here for you and your pet if they require urgent or specialty care—give us a call.