The American healthcare system is marked as one of the worst in the developed world, with tens of thousands of people suffering with and dying from preventable illnesses every year because they can’t afford the treatment. Recently a Florida lady was heavily charged just for a feline bite on hand.
Cat bites can be dangerous both to other animals and to humans. In their mouths, all cats carry a large number of bacteria that are capable of causing tissue infections in bite wounds. A wildlife biologist in Florida was slammed with a nearly $50,000 medical bill after she was bitten by a stray kitten. Jeannette Parker, noticed a black kitten on a road just outside Florida’s Everglades National Park. She felt sorry for the sick and fragile cat, Parker offered it some tuna she had in her car. But the kitten showed no kindness to Parker, biting the hand that fed it. “It broke my skin with his teeth,” she said.
She was worried about the infections of rabies. She drove to the health department near her home in the Florida Keys, but it was closed. Then she moved to Mariners Hospital, where she received two types of injections and an antibiotic for the bite. She was recovered but was billed by the hospital for $48,512. The majority of the cost $46,422 was for medication known as rabies immune globulin, which was a short-term protection against virus that causes rabies. Parker was given 12 milliliters of the substance, which averages at $361.26 per milliliter. Parker was shocked to hear the expenses of this treatment.
“I saw that immune globulin was expensive, but it wasn’t that expensive,” she said.
The average cost of rabies immune globulin, is $361.26 per milliliter. Parker received a 12-millimeter dose, so the cost of the medication would presumably have been $4,335. But at the time Parker’s treatment, she was charged $46,422 that reflected list prices the hospital had in place on Sept. 22, 2018.
The hospital was billing $7,737 per 2-milliliter dose at the time Parker was treated. The hospital, a month later, lowered the price for rabies immune globulin to $1,650 per 2 milliliters. The price was reflected on the hospital’s list of items that are billable to the patient.
“Statements for patients who received treatment prior to the change would reflect the previous charge,” Alvarez said, but didn’t tell the reason of the high price when Parker was treated and why it was later lowered.
Parker got some benefit from the American Postal Workers Union because her husband is a federal government employee, she didn’t have to pay the full amount owing $4,191 of the total cost. That included $344 of her remaining deductible for 2018 and 10 percent of the charges. Still, it wasn’t made any difference and the Mariners Hospital did not offer to lower her bill to reflect the current price of the immune globulin. Now Parker plans to have the hospital re-submit the bill to see if the 10 percent could be covered. She claims she was told by her insurance company that a cat bite should have been considered an “accidental injury” that should have been covered in full. But the cost remains as it is.
“My funeral would have been cheaper,” the biologist joked.