MONEY

John Joseph, Colorado Man, Receives ‘Outlandish' Bill For Son's Snake Bite

11/14/2012 01:44 pm ET | Updated Nov 15, 2012

The snake bite must have hurt, but the sting felt after receiving the hospital bill was even worse.

Daniel Joseph, a 17-year-old from Centennial, Colo., went to the emergency room after a rattlesnake bit him twice, CBS Denver reports. After spending six hours in the ER and receiving anti-venom treatment, Daniel was released. But the nightmare wasn't over. Soon after, his father John received what he called an "outlandish" bill for $43,000.

Anti-venom, which cost $34,025.88, was the main contributor to the bill. The hospital reportedly charged nearly $6,000 for each of the six vials of anti-venom used, despite the fact that the same product is sold wholesale for less than $2,000, according to CBS Denver.

The health services company that operates the emergency room where Daniel Joseph was treated said that the markup in price is due in part to the cost of offering around-the-clock care, according to CBS Denver.

Colorado isn’t the only state charging a significant markup for anti-venom hospital procedures. In California, an exchange student at University of California, San Diego was hit with a $143,989 hospital bill after a rattlesnake bit him, 10News reports. According to a statement from the hospital, the student required 10 units of anti-venom a night and 24/7 nursing supervision, which led to the high cost of the bill.

In Arizona, a woman was charged $83,046 to treat a scorpion bite, according to ABC News. Anascorp, the relatively new anti-venom drug used to treat her bite, costs hospitals about $3,800 per vial. But the hospital reportedly charged her 10 times that much for the drug. After reports of this case, the Arizona Department of Health Services reduced the cost of the drug 80 percent to $8,000 per dose, the Arizona Republic reports.

Anti-venom is costly to produce and the average treatment costs $20,000 per dose, according to the Herald Sun. Manufacturing anti-venom requires injecting snake venom into sheep to produce antibodies, which combat the poison. The antibodies are then collected from the sheep to create anti-venom -- a process that could take years to complete.

In the United States, fewer than one in 37,500 people are bitten by venomous snakes each year, according to the University of Florida. Only one in 50 million people will die from a snakebite totaling about 5 to 6 fatalities per year.

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