How the hell does treatment for a rattlesnake bite in America cost $153,161.25? Because our healthcare system’s a mess and the Republicans refuse to let anyone fix it.

Fox News reports a poll by Quinnipiac University shows 56 percent of voters disapproved of the House GOP’s travesty of a healthcare bill. Alas, these congressmen give zero fucks about what the majority of us think or even whether their own constituents live or die.

Thanks to Obamacare, millions of Americans have access to healthcare they didn’t have before. But thanks to the for-profit companies involved, the monthly premiums, prescription drugs, deductibles, and other costs are still too high for many of us.

That’s how Todd Fassler from San Diego wound up with a whopping $153,161.25 hospital bill for a rattlesnake bite. Although this happened in 2015, this photo’s making the rounds again now that our health insurance is threatened.
Furthermore, the bill was sent on July 13 and was due on July 27. As if any of us can just come up with $153,161.25 in just two weeks.  Could you blame someone if they just told the hospital they’d rather be left to die than get stuck with that huge bill?

And in case you can’t see the photo clearly, here’s the itemization of “patient services” for treating this rattlesnake bite:

And in case you can’t see the photo clearly, here’s the itemization of “patient services” for treating this rattlesnake bite:

  • Pharmacy: $83,341.25
  • Lab services: $22,433.00
  • Intermediate care room: $21, 255.00
  • Intensive care room: $17,766.00
  • Emergency care services: $5,564.00
  • Therapy services; $1,423.00
  • Radiology: $947.00
  • Special services: $462.00

It’s hard to sympathize with Fassler. After all, he suffered the rattlesnake bite while videotaping himself setting his pet rattlesnake free. KGTV reports:

Doctors depleted the anti-venom stash at two different hospitals to treat Todd Fassler, who as it turns out once had a pet rattlesnake of his own. He sent us video he says shows him setting his snake free.

Fassler said he had the rattlesnake for more than a year but let it go because he thinks animal services would appreciate it.

In the selfie video obtained by KGTV, this Darwin Awards candidate can be heard crooning, “Awww, there you are, baby. You want me to touch you and let you out? Here you go.” Todd Fassler may have been a total idiot, but that hospital bill is terrifying because it could happen to any of us. All it takes is one dumb move, a moment of clumsiness, or stroke of bad luck.

For starters, it’s amazing that a five-day stay in the hospital alone would cost $7,804 per night and that a trip to the emergency room would cost $5,564.  And then there are the lab services. Did Todd Fassler really need to pay $22,433 to f ind out he had a rattlesnake bite when he actually knew the snake that bit him? Then throw in a trip to the radiology department, “special services,” and “therapy services,” and our patient’s a few thousand more in the hole.

But the most striking line item comes from the pharmacy. More than half the total cost of Fassler’s rattlesnake bite comes from the antivenin drug. The Smithsonian’s Smart News reports the Crofab antivenin drug costs $2,300 per vial. Treating a snakebite requires four to six vials of the pricey stuff, and BTG plc — the manufacturer — has a monopoly here in the U.S.  On top of that, the deranged price negotiations between hospitals and insurance companies can drive prices up even further.

You can laugh at Fassler all you want. But the Centers for Disease Control reports 7,000-8,000 people in the U.S. get treated for snake bites per year.

Leslie Boyer, founding director of the University of Arizona’s VIPER Institute was shocked to hear that the drug made in her own lab was costing so much and wrote a paper on why drugs cost so much more in the U.S. than in Mexico.

We were crestfallen to discover…that the chosen wholesale price for this otherwise excellent drug was set too high to be cost effective, even in the treatment of critically ill children…Somehow, a US drug whose sister product retailed in Mexico at $100 was resulting in bills to Arizona patients of between $7,900 and $39,652 per vial.
Regardless of the idiocy leading to this rattlesnake bite, the fact remains that we spend more on healthcare than any other country, but get the worst results. In fact, compared to 10 other wealthy countries, we rank dead last. Furthermore, our life spans are low compared with other countries and our infant mortality rate is among the world’s highest.

KGTV reports: Man racks up $160,000 bill for a rattlesnake bite.

Over the past three decades, we’ve had an escalating crisis in our healthcare system that leaves millions of Americans uninsured, while even those with health insurance have trouble with their bills. According to USA Today medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcy.

Nor is Todd Fassler the only one in this situation.  On May 5  KVOA reported Holly Hinton from Arizona suffered a rattlesnake bite, has been in the hospital since last September, and her medical bill will “easily exceed $200,000.

Featured image: Public Domain via Max Pixel. A version of this article first appeared in American News X.