Girl’s $143,000 bill for snakebite treatment reveals antivenin price gouging


Enlarge / Even this copperhead thinks that’s crazy. (credit: Getty | Smith Collection)

Snakebites can be painful and scary. But they may seem like weak nips after the hospital’s billing department sinks their teeth in.

Emergency treatment for a copperhead bite in a 9-year-old Indiana girl last summer cost a jaw-dropping $142,938, according to a report by Kaiser Health News. The bill includes $67,957 for four vials of antivenin. That works out to $16,989.25 for each vial—more than five times the average list price of $3,198. The bill also included $55,577.64 for air-ambulance transportation.

The girl, now 10, was away at summer camp last July, hiking in Illinois. When she went to step over a cluster of rocks on the trail, she got a bite on a toe on her right foot. Her camp counselors suspected it was a copperhead snake that bit her and rushed to get her medical treatment. She arrived at St. Vincent Evansville hospital in Indiana by air ambulance where doctors gave her four vials of an antivenin called CroFab. She was then transferred to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis for recovery. All in all, she was released within 24 hours of the bite.

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