Buying medicine, filling prescriptions, paying medical bills and just going to the doctor can break the bank, even with insurance. But what if you got your medical bill and it was $1.188 million? Sound impossible? Well, it happened to a family from California in July 2016. They got the insane bill for treatment of a snake bite.
Outside her parents home, Dominic’s mom heard some rattling, saw Dominic waving something in the air and then he screamed, “Ouch!" Because he is severely autistic, he was not afraid of the snake, he didn’t sense any danger, and he grabbed it like he would grab a toy.
When asked how he felt when he saw the bill, he explained, “My reaction to the cost is I can literally sell my house in Redondo Beach that I've worked my whole life for and have it paid off in full...and I would still owe that hospital $250,000."
When he contacted the hospital, the Director of Pharmacy Services at Riverside University Health Systems Medical Center, Greg Prouty, told him that the clerk definitely overcharged him. But by how much?
Each vial of anti-venom, which is only made by one company, is $14,000. A snake bite victim could need anywhere from 18 to 24 vials of it to survive. Why so expensive? Each vial costs the hospital only $2,500, but then when you add in the price to store it, the market price, etc. the price goes up…and up...and up.
Prouty explained, "It's the interaction of several different factors not the least of which is there is only one manufacturer on the market so they can literally charge whatever they want. The fact that it works and it works very well...health insurance companies demand discounts from providers so the price of products like this have to be marked up so discounts can be provided and, at the end of the day, you bring in more money than it cost to buy."
The bill was corrected to $511,825.01, and then again to $350,000. Devine’s co-pay was about $8,000, but because of all the mistakes on the hospital's part, they decided to waive the fee. Although the problem was solved, now Devine has to worry about the impact this will have on his insurance coverage in the future.
Raise your hand if you hate Big Pharma! Me! Raise your hand if you hate insurance companies!