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$83 046 hospital bill stings scorpion victim

6:55 AM, Sep 7, 2012   |    comments
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CHANDLER, AZ  - A hospital that billed a woman $83,046 for a visit that included administering two doses of scorpion antivenom said Wednesday that it plans to adjust the woman's bill and review its price for the specialty medication.

Marcie Edmonds provided a copy of her bill to The Arizona Republic last week that showed Chandler Regional Medical Center charged her $39,652 per dose of Anascorp, a scorpion antivenom approved by the Food and Drug Administration last summer. She received two doses to treat her symptoms during a three-hour stay in June after a bark scorpion sting.

Edmonds' insurer, Humana, paid Chandler Regional $57,509 for the bill. The hospital has asked Edmonds for the balance of $25,537. She also has received another bill from the hospital's emergency-room physician for $1,302.

It's unclear whether Chandler Regional will agree to drop the entire balance of Edmonds' bill, but the hospital apologized to Edmonds for any distress caused by the treatment cost.

"Our patient financial-services team is working directly with Ms. Edmonds to adjust the high out-of-network cost of the Anascorp antivenom she received," the hospital said in a statement Wednesday. "In addition, we are also currently reviewing our pricing of this expensive specialty medication."

Chandler Regional Medical Center said several insurance companies don't cover the cost of Anascorp.

Edmonds was tearing open a box of air-conditioner filters in her garage in June when she felt a sharp sting in her abdomen. She had no intention of seeking medical help, but within an hour of the sting, Edmonds' mild tingling sensation worsened with throat tightness, blurry vision, darting eyes and tense muscles. She could not walk and had trouble breathing.

The Arizona Republic reported last year about the pricey markup Arizona hospitals were charging for the antivenom made in Mexico. Pharmacies in Mexico charge about $100 per dose.

After the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug last year, Tennessee-based Rare Disease Therapeutics sold the drug to a distributor for $3,500 per dose. The distributor charged hospitals about $3,780 per dose.

Edmonds said Wednesday that she was advised by her attorney not to discuss her hospital bill until it's resolved.

Edmonds, who is a counselor, said last week that she knows the intricacies of health care billing, but she believes the hospital's charges should be explained to the public.

"Everyone I talk to says, 'You've got to be kidding,'" she said last week.

USA Today

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