Any ordinary cat lover can agree, we all have a heart for strays. I feel my heart skip a nervous beat each and every time that I see one. I find myself contemplating such thoughts as, “I wonder when they’ve had their last meal?!” For Jeannette Parker, a wildlife biologist in Florida, she took action to help these needy felines. But she soon found feeding a stray kitten to be very costly–to the tune of roughly $50,000!
Jeannette Parker says that she saw the emaciated black kitten back in September 2018. It was wandering along the roadside near the Florida Everglades National Park. She felt sorry for the little fellow, just as most cat lovers–or animal lovers, for that matter–would. So she offered the hungry kitten a can of tuna from her car.
That’s when the kitten decided rather than be appreciative, it would defend itself.
It nervously bit her, piercing straight through her flesh. OUCH!
She quickly cleaned the wound as best she could. Recently though, the county of Miami-Dade had issued a warning to the local residents. They had, ironically, expressed concernes about the spreading of contagious diseases–like the possible contamination of rabies from an angry feral cat. She decided it best to seek medical attention immediately.
Jeannette returned back to her home in the Florida Keys, finding her local health department closed. Assuming it still best to seek treatment, she then headed over to the emergency room. Thankfully, Mariners Hospital was not far from her home.
She was seen by medical personnel after waiting for approximately 2 hours. She received two different types of injections to treat the possibility of rabies, along with a strong antibiotic. Jeannette never actually met with a licensed medical doctor face-to-face. Returning home after a long day, she didn’t give it a second thought.
“I went home happy as a clam,” she reported to Kaiser Health News regarding the incident.
In the months that soon followed, she lived on content and rabies free.
However, she would soon find herself wishing she’d never stopped to feed that ravenous kitten. One by one, the whopping medical bills started to roll in…
Total bill: $48,512, with $46,422 of that total for one preventive medication!
Check out the details below and prepare for the cat to catch your tongue…
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that post-exposure preventive treatment for rabies, usually costs around $3,000 on average.
This includes the immune globulin and four doses of vaccine given over a two-week period.
Jeannette felt that hers was an astronomically high cost to pay for treatment of POSSIBLE rabies contamination. She needed to get some clarification on the matter, so took it upon herself to visit the hospital.
“I saw that immune globulin was expensive, but it wasn’t that expensive,” she said. “I sat on it for a while because I was upset. Finally, I went by the hospital to confirm and they said, ‘Yes that is right.’”
There are an estimated 40,000-50,000 people treated annually because of a possible exposure to rabies. However, this isn’t what you need to be most scared of. Hospitals are given the right to set their own rates and charges for medical treatments administered. That is terrifying!
“My funeral would have been cheaper.” — Jeannette Parker
Clearly Mariners Hospital takes great pride in this life-saving treatment.
What better way than to do their “do-good, stray cat feeding” citizens of the world a severe injustice by price gouging for the rabies immune globulin?
“I have never heard anything that high for immune globulin,” said independent biomedical consultant Charles Rupprecht, a World Health Organization technical adviser on rabies who ran the rabies program at the CDC for 20 years. “How is that possible?”
According to Kaiser Health News, the Mariners Hospital charged Jeannette this high price because they claimed they had yet to adjust their price list. This is done according to “necessary needs” of patients. At the time that Jeannette sought treatment for her bite, it hadn’t been updated. The $46,422 she was charged “reflected list prices the hospital had in place on September 22, 2018.”
There was also an emailed statement from Dori Robau Alvarez, a spokesperson for Baptist Health, which Mariners Hospital is a part of.
She informed Kaiser Health News that, “Statements for patients who received treatment prior to the change would reflect the previous charge.”
Coincidentally, Mariners Hospital lowered its charge for rabies immune globulin to $1,650 per 2 ml shortly after this cat bite bill made headlines. This would have lowered Jeannette’s bill to roughly $10K.
We must say, this brings new meaning to biting the hand that feeds you.
Thankfully for Jeannette, she had good deed kitty karma on her side. Her husband works for the federal government at Everglades National Park and has great insurance. Her charges were reduced considerably because she was able to negotiate with them. She is still expected to pay $4,191 out of pocket. This includes the final $344 of her deductible for the year, along with her 10% share of the charges that her insurer accepted.
In the most recent turn of events, Jeannette discovered something else infuriating. After phoning her insurer, she learned that the kitten bite should have been deemed an “accidental injury”. This classification is eligible for 100% coverage under her insurance plan (minus her remaining deductible). Jeannette is working diligently to have Mariners Hospital resubmit the bill to her insurance so the proper changes are reflected.
Either way, the Mariners Hospital has not offered to lower the price of the immune globulin to reflect their new–much lower–charge. (Shame on you, Mariners Hospital!)
A Special Reminder From the CDC…
Despite this costly ordeal, Jeannette Parker did what was right by seeking treatment for her stray kitten bite. Thankfully she’s here to tell the tale for us rather than dead. Never take exposure to rabies lightly!
The rabies virus is transmitted through saliva or brain/nervous system tissue. You can only get rabies by coming in contact with these specific bodily excretions and tissues. It’s important to remember that rabies is a medical urgency but not an emergency. There should be no delays in decision making though.
REMEMBER: ADOPT, DON’T SHOP; FOSTERING SAVES LIVES & SPAY AND NEUTER!