A North Carolina Hospital Charged A Guy $81,000 For $750 Worth Of Snake Bite Medicine

01.29.14 4 years ago 14 Comments

Hospital overcharging

This is a story where you, the reader, is charged with finding the true snake in the grass. Is it the one who put Eric Ferguson of Mooresville, NC in the hospital for 18 hours? Or perhaps it’s the hospital overcharging Mr. Ferguson $81,000 for his treatment? Don’t you just love a good mystery? From BoingBoing:

Included in the itemized bill from the hospital was a $81,000 charge for four doses of anti-venom — the same anti-venom that can be had on Ebay for $750. The hospital and Ferguson’s insurer settled for $20,227, of which Ferguson paid $5,400.

Ferguson does not fault the standard of care at the hospital (“beyond phenomenal”), but he is understandably curious about the $80,000+ markup on the medicine with which he was treated. The hospital itself is already under investigation for overbilling.

Now yes, it is easy to be shocked by that price. And it doesn’t look good when you can buy the medicine for that much cheaper online. Luckily the hospital responded with their reasoning. From The Charlotte Observer:

Asked to comment on the snake bite billing, Lake Norman officials provided a written statement: “… Hospitals only collect a small percentage of our charges, or ‘list prices.’ We are required to give Medicare one level of discount from list price, Medicaid another, and private insurers negotiate for still others. … If we did not start with the list prices we have, we would not end up with enough revenue to remain in operation. … Our costs for providing uncompensated care are partially covered by higher bills for other patients.

“In some cases, Lake Norman Regional’s charge is considerably higher than other local hospitals,” the statement said. But the hospital said it offers discounts of 62 to 65 percent to “self-pay” patients without insurance.

I still find the for profit corporate hospital system to be a little murky. Nothing ever rings too honest when your main goal is profit and not patient care. It makes sense that you would spread costs around in order to make a profit, but it is problematic when you’re hitting folks with a shock like this during what might be a traumatic period in life.

So back to my original question, who is the real snake in the grass here? Well after an in-depth investigation, there is really only one answer to that question: President Obama.

cb8 Hospital overcharging

(Lead image via gettyimages, Gif via KnowYourMeme)

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