Last July, 9-year-old Oakley Yoder and other summer camp kids were returning back to their tents at Jackson Falls, Illinois. As they approached a heap of boulders blocking the path, Oakley did not see the snake until it bit her right toe.
Oakley recalled, “I was really scared. I thought that I could either get paralyzed or could actually die.”
Her camp counselors suspected the snake was a copperhead and quickly realized that she requires medical attention as soon as possible. First responders met them and advised Oakley be taken by air ambulance to a hospital. The helicopter flight transported her from a school parking lot just outside the forest to St. Vincent Evansville Hospital, Indiana.
At the hospital, she received four vials of antivenin called CroFab. Later, she was transferred to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis for further observation.
Her parents, Josh Perry and Shelli Yoder, arrived at Riley about a couple of hours before their daughter. Doctors closely observed her condition. She was still oozing and bruised. By lunchtime, physicians reassured Oakley parents that she would be fine.
Perry said, “It was a major comfort for me to realize, OK, we’re getting the best care possible.” Perry who is a healthcare ethics professor at the business school at Indiana University, Bloomington.
Oakley was discharged in less than 24 hours after the snakebite.
Now, here comes the bill of $142,938, including $67,957 for four CroFab vials of antivenin and $55,577.64 for air ambulance transport. According to the family’s insurer, the balance included a ground ambulance charge and additional hospital as well as physician charges. One of the most important parts of Oakley’s treatment involved four CroFab shots.
There is no time to wait when a venomous snake bites you. If left untreated, a venomous snakebite can lead to tissue damage, hemorrhage, and even a respiratory arrest. And children are more vulnerable to experience more severe effects.
CroFab, a snake antivenin, has dominated the U.S. market since it got the approval in 2000. According to Connecture, a healthcare information tech company, CroFab costs $3,198 per vial.
There is a Mexican version of snake antivenin that costs around $200 per vial. However, it is not sold in the U.S.
According to the facility’s bill, Oakley was charged $16,989.25 for each vial of CroFab by St. Vincent Evansville Hospital, which is nearly five times higher than the average cost price.
Oakley’s insurer IU Health Plans negotiated down the antivenin charge and air ambulance charge and paid $44,092.87 and $55,543.20, respectively. After some adjustments to the bill, the insurer paid a total of $107,863.33. Secondary insurance that was offered through the summer camp paid $7,286.34.
Oakley’s family did not pay a single dime out of pocket for her emergency care; however, such high medical bills contribute to rising premiums. Oakley is doing well now. Her foot is healed, but her toe is a bit sensitive to pressure. And now she intends to return to the same summer camp this year.