Guys, Florida is at it again.
A woman living in S. Florida just got a hospital bill of over $48k after going in for a kitten bite.
No, it didn't get hideously infected. No, she didn't need anything amputated.
In fact, the woman never even saw a doctor.
Half of you right now are thinking:
"Oh, so there was a mistake on her bill. Why is this even a story?"
Yeah, it's a story because there was no mistake.
The final bill for a few injections, antibiotics and (it bears repeating) no time with a doctor was $48,512.
Over $46k of that bill was for one single medicine.
Jeanette is now sitting around like classic Beyonce:
Jeanette Parker, 44, saw a kitten wandering in the road.
It looked hungry and thin and was in an area just outside of the Everglades National Park. That area is well known as a spot people dump unwanted pets, assuming they have the skills to survive in the wild.
Spoiler Alert: Not many do.
Those that do, however, tend to breed like crazy and can destroy the native wildlife.
Jeanette didn't know if the kitten was dumped or feral, but she knew she wanted to help as much as she could. As an animal lover and wildlife biologist, she had some tuna in her car - which she offered to her new feline friend.
The kitten got a bit too excited during snack time (don't we all) and bit Jeanette's finger. It was a small bite that did break the skin, but nothing too concerning.
She cleaned up her wound and went about her day before discovering that Miami-Dade county had recently released statements warning about rabies. Jeanette was no longer in Miami-Dade county, but that's where the cat was so she called the Health Department.
It was closed.
As a precaution, Jeanette went to her local hospital where she received two types of injections and an antibiotic and was then sent on her way.
She certainly saw that massive bill, though. Yes, it's a hospital on an island, but only in the technical sense - like how Manhattan is an island.
Key West is accessible by land, sea and air and doesn't normally suffer the kind of inflation islands see when they're distant from the mainland.
Jeanette wants to know how the hospital can justify charging her almost fifty thousand dollars for 2 shots and some antibiotics.
We want to know, too!
JeanetteAngel Valentín for KHN/NPR
Jeanette says she assumed the bill was a mistake, so she went to the hospital with it for clarification. Since one medicine was charged at $46,422 she thought maybe there was a typo.
Perhaps an extra 2 there at the end?
The hospital informed her that no, there was no mistake. Her bill was correct.
The medication that sent her bill skyrocketing is a preventative medication used in rabies exposures called immune globulin. NPR got a hold of the story and did some research.
Based on the amount of immune globulin Ms. Parker received, her bill at a typical hospital should have been about $4,335.
Here's the problem - hospitals are allowed to create their own pricing. The hospital Jeanette went to was charging $7.737.00 per 2mL dose.
Precautionary treatment often requires several doses. Since it's considered a life-saving medication, most people don't shop around for it.
Jeanette certainly didn't.
Charles Rupprecht is a World Health Organization technical adviser on rabies and also ran the rabies program at the CDC for 20 years.
Even he is stunned by the bill, telling NPR:
"I have never heard anything that high for immune globulin. How is that possible?"
To add further insult to injury, the hospital re-vamped it's pricing just a month after Jeanette's visit.
Her bill on the new pricing scale would have been $9,900. That's still double what a patient should expect to pay, but it's far less than the $48,512 she was billed.
The hospital refused to honor their new pricing and Jeanette's bill stayed right where it was.
According the Jeanette's insurance company, the bite should have been billed as an accidental injury and would have been eligible to be 100% covered.
The hospital disagreed.
Her insurance paid $34,618, which left Jeanette with a total out-of-pocket cost of $13,894.
Over a bite from a kitten.
Jeanette told NPR:
"My funeral would have been cheaper."