This is the extraordinary story of a single injection of rabies immune globulin costing $46,422. In fact the total bill for this woman who was bitten by a feral cat in Miami-Dade County, Florida was $48,512. Her insurance paid $44,320.90 so her direct payment to the hospital for the treatment was $4191.10. Her funeral would have been cheaper she said!
The lady concerned is Jeanette Parker. She is a biologist and she was in a rural area outside Florida’s Everglades National Park at the time she spotted a feral cat wandering down the road. She took pity on the cat because she looked skinny and sick and offered some tuna and in return the cat bit her on the finger. The bite broke the skin. She cleaned the wound.
She was aware that rabies was a worry in the area and therefore sought medical attention. She ended up at Mariners Hospital which was not too far from her home and spent two hours in the emergency room. She received two injections and an antibiotic.
She never saw a doctor and went home content. She received the bill later which is itemised above. Most of the bill is made up with the cost of the single injection of rabies immune globulin. The question mark is over that cost. Apparently it normally costs $3000.
The hospital, since treating Parker, has reduced the price to $9900. It is still a very high figure but a lot less than the charge suffered by Jeanette Parker.
The wholesale price of this particular product is $361.26 per millilitre. The rest is markup. On that basis the cost of the 12 mL dose that Parker received would have been $4335. The hospital confirmed that their charges were correct at the time. They obviously impose a very high markup to the wholesale cost.
It appears that the insurer decided that the charges although high were not fraudulent. I would argue that the reason why the charges were that high is because most of the bill is paid by an insurer. The insurer wouldn’t be too bothered because they simply hike up the insurance premiums.
It is said that the rabies immune globulin injection is a complex product made from blood plasma donated by volunteers who have been immunised against rabies. It is manufactured by three businesses. There are no shortages.
Source: National Public Radio Inc.
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