North Carolina Hospital Treats Man With Snakebite Serum Found Online for $750 . . . Charges Him $89,227 For 18-Hour Stay

4e660720-2698-4db1-ba61-d8baef403de5_UnTVm-Em-138There are health care nightmares and then there is what happened to Eric Fergusan, 54, in North Carolina. Fergusan was bitten by a snake on the foot while putting out trash last August. He drove himself to the hospital and was given anti-venom medicine that can be purchased online for as low as $750. The bill” $89,227 bill for an 18-hour stay.

He is fortunately insured but it is the latest example of the how medical bills have become little more than openly fraudulent billing by hospitals. Drug and treatment costs have soared in this country because members of Congress and the Obama Administration yielded continually to this powerful lobby that hires former members and staff members and contributes mightily to campaign funds. The result is that citizens are being sheared like sheep as politicians fall over each other to help these lobbyists.

The Lake Norman Regional Medical Center is responsible for this outrageous bill. Blue Cross and Blue Shield reduced the total bill to $20,227 and the couple paid $5,400 out-of-pocket to cover their deductible and co-pay. So how does that work? The hospital charges roughly $90,000 and then suddenly drops to $20,000? In most other fields, that would be called fraudulent billing but, in the United States, it is considered standard billing procedures.

What is really amazing is the frank response of the hospital: “Our costs for providing uncompensated care are partially covered by higher bills for other patients.” In other words, we do not actually charge what your care cost but instead gouge anyone who can pay more to cover losses on other patients. Consider other industries following this practice. “Yes, your car was $40,000 but you have been charged $90,000 because we had some car loans fail with other customers” or “Yes, I agree to represent you for $100,000 but I have a hit-and-run defendant disappear without payment in his case so I am charging you $150,000.” What is equally alarming is the matter-of-fact attitude of the hospitals who first try to overcharge and then shrug and take, in this case, almost one-fifth of the original demand.

These abuses are reported everyday but you hardly see a member of Congress rushing to the floor to demand reforms. Why? Just look at who the former members are working for?

Source: Yahoo

51 thoughts on “North Carolina Hospital Treats Man With Snakebite Serum Found Online for $750 . . . Charges Him $89,227 For 18-Hour Stay

  1. Hospitals are masters at over charging the helpless. While they are ripping off their patients they are spending millions on ADVERTISING! They are paying administrators millions! And most are enjoying nonprofit status. ACA failed to put the brakes not is greed.

  2. It’s the insured vs uninsured….. What I found interesting is the story of a person that went to a hospital…. Out of net work…. The insurance company paid its portion but they went after the guy for the difference….. About 80k….. You have the bankruptcy reform act which prohibits discharge of debts to most hospitals…. Etc….

  3. Great example of how the duopoly is bought and paid for by special interests, drug companies being in the upper echelon of those groups.

    Two guys are out hunting. One of them gets bit by a snake on his scrotum.. His buddy gets on his cell phone and calls the local ER. A doc gets on and gives the friend instructions. “First, find the bite mark. Make certain there’s only one.” The friend gives a, “Yes, Sir.” The doc continues, “Now, make an incision between the bite and the heart, deep enough to draw blood.” The victim is waiting impatiently. Then the doc says, “Then suck out as much blood as possible. Do this @ least 4-5 times, spitting out the poison on the ground. Do this or he will die.” The victim, now panicky asks his buddy, “What did the doc say!!” The buddy gives a forlorn look and says quietly, “Doc says you’re goin’ to die.”

    Watch Dollars and Dentists, a joint investigation by FRONTLINE and the Center for Public Integrity.

    A two-year Senate investigation of dental chains owned by private-equity firms found that Small Smiles’ business model deceptively gave managers rather than dentists control over the clinics.

  5. A two-year Senate investigation of dental chains owned by private-equity firms found that Small Smiles’ business model deceptively gave managers rather than dentists control over the clinics.
    Senate Report Faults Children’s Dental Chain for “Fundamentally Deceptive” Care
    July 25, 2013, 4:40 pm ET · by David Heath , The Center for Public Integrity
    The bipartisan report recommends removing Small Smiles, one of the nation’s largest dental chains for children, from the Medicaid program for encouraging dentists to perform unnecessary treatments to boost profits.

    June 26, 2012, 5:22 pm ET by David Heath Center for Public Integrity, and Jill Rosenbaum, FRONTLINE
    “…But Kool Smiles is not a charity. It’s run by a company owned by the private-equity firm Friedman Fleischer & Lowe of San Francisco, a firm whose investments exceed $2.5 billion in companies including the fast-food chain Church’s Chicken and the payday lender Speedy Cash.”
    check out the comments (esp. the ones that defend this practice)

  6. “Yes, your car was $40,000 but you have been charged $90,000 because we had some car loans fail with other customers.”

    The difference is that the government did not pass a law requiring that cars be given for free to customers who could not pay for them. Hospitals must, by law, treat patients who cannot pay.That does not make the hospital’s extortion right, but it gives them a veil of legality for it and leverage to make it work.

    The government has further complicated that by passing a law requiring insurance companies to coverpeople who have known conditions such that they are issuing policies which they know in advance will cause them to lose money.

    The other issue is reducing the $80,000 bill to $20,000, caused by contracting with insurance companies who negotiate discounts. Hospitals don’t really discount the bill, they simply raise the price until the discounted price affords them their desired 50% level of profit.

    The government, having passed laws forcing “for profit” companies to lose money, then grants those companies exemptions from regulations and common sense which result in this outrageous game playing and what would otherwise be massive illegality. The end result is even larger profits than these companies would have made without all of the governmental interference.

  7. Maybe there should be a disclaimer that reads Something like this.

    You maybe required to pay the bills of patients in the adjoining rooms.

    Private Equity Stalks Hospitals
    Health care workers rushed to a Brooklyn hospital yesterday for an emergency rally to keep it “Open for Care,” after administrators began diverting patients away. In New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, hospital unions are battling shadowy operators with dollar signs in their eyes.
    ““These hospital conversions from not-for-profit to for-profit I believe are at a tipping point,” HPAE President Ann Twomey told a state senate committee in May, “threatening to undermine access to care and affordability of care for our communities.” – See more at:

  9. Medical care delivery: Silence to Voice:

    Code Green: Money-Driven Hospitals and the Dismantling of Nursing (The Culture and Politics of Health Care Work… by Dana Beth Weinberg and Suzanne Gordon (Feb 26, 2004)
    From Silence to Voice: What Nurses Know and Must Communicate to the Public (The Culture and Politics of Health… by Bernice Buresh and Suzanne Gordon (May 28, 2013) (original: 2006)

    Hospital Prices No Longer Secret As New Data Reveals Bewildering System, Staggering Cost Differences
    by Jeffrey Young and Chris Kirkham
    Posted: 05/08/2013 12:00 am EDT | Updated: 05/08/2013 3:24 pm EDT
    “When a patient arrives at Bayonne Hospital Center in New Jersey requiring treatment for the respiratory ailment known as COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, she faces an official price tag of $99,690.

    Less than 30 miles away in the Bronx, N.Y., the Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center charges only $7,044 for the same treatment, according to a massive federal database of national health care costs made public on Wednesday.”

  11. Poor people didn’t lobby Congress for food stamps in the 60’s, but the food industry did, paving the way for inflation in grocery stores. As the number of food-stamp recipients has doubled in recent years, so have food prices. When the technology industry lobbies for subsidies, we will all be faced with $20,000 prices for smartphones and tablets.

    Health Care and the Profit Motive
    “Patients pay for health care after, not before, it is received, and frequently pay indirectly for their care via insurers. Because patients don’t see the bill until after the non-refundable “product” has been “consumed” — and because there is virtually no transparency about costs —”
    Princeton economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, with characteristic bluster, wrote recently that “ever since Kenneth Arrow’s seminal paper, [economists have known] that the standard competitive market model just doesn’t work for health care…to act all wide-eyed and innocent about these problems at this late date is either remarkably ignorant or simply disingenuous.”

    The tension between the spirit of medicine and the spirit of the marketplace is hardly a new problem. In Book I of Plato’s Republic, Socrates poses the difficult question: “Is the physician a healer of the sick or a maker of money?” The answer is necessarily both, and balancing the two is not much easier in our time than it was in Plato’s.

    Indeed, the ancient ethic of the medical profession — set forth by Plato’s contemporary, the physician Hippocrates of Cos — gives doctors a moral as well as a medical role in their societies. The famous Hippocratic Oath affirms that doctors should protect the sick not only from disease but also from “harm and injustice,” and instructs physicians not to prey on patients’ vulnerability for their own gain. In ancient Greece, the oath represented a minority ethic in a world where charlatans posed as physicians to rob desperate people. Later, Roman physicians found much to admire in the Hippocratic Oath and preserved it for Christian Europe, where the code’s universal moral claims found more hospitable ground. The Christianized Hippocratic Oath became the common standard by which physicians were judged. For new doctors, swearing the Hippocratic Oath became a defining rite of passage — connecting them to generations of their predecessors in an ancient, unbroken tradition that endured into the 20th century.

    Today, contrary to popular perception, few medical schools require their students to take the oath;…”

  13. We need to have price caps on health services, like other countries that have succesful health care programs. We can learn from them can’t we?

  14. The hospitals have baseline costs and certainly this is reasonable to bill for but what I have noticed is billing costs to the patient often involve how desperate the patient is. Life threatening? the cost is higher. Saving a premature baby, Highest of all because parents would do anything to save their child. It is proven when the hosptial / insurer agreed billing cost is 20k and the hospital fluffs it up to 90k. 70k of pure money gouging. I can see a business having to accomodate those costs that are unreaimbursed such as from accounts that will not pay but you have to wonder why these arears accounts happen when the prices are so extreme to begin with.

  15. When the mafia does this it is termed “busting out” a corporation. When business does it it is entitled Private Equity.

    In any case, this patterned process of “leveraged HEALTH” is a contagious epidemic for Public Health systems and is becoming the preferred model to crash and “privatize” (loot) the public domain. iN THE CURRENT “REFORM” MODE, THE INSURANCE INDUSTRIES BECOME THE INTERMEDIARIES THAT WILL ACCESS AN uncontrolled public pool of money financed through taxation. In effect this may well trump the derivatives market of government backed sub-prime loans that precipitated the speculation boom and ultimately crashed the economy. The claim that prices will fall is very shady. There is no incentive when money pools are created in mass quantitative easing rates; there is just an insidious feeding frenzy followed by greater default.

    MORE PRIVATIZATION ! Corruption can be defined as breaking the public trust. In this regard the systemic is corrupt!

    The Hospitals under private equity will be utilizing crisis driven debt to set an agenda for restructuring expenses, costs and salaries around preferable standards of living that are decided by themselves. Private satellite outsourcing will control horizontal services maintaining price indexes across the spectrum under private profit dependent (remember profits must grow each year not stay the same): The hospital administrative salaries will go through the roof as they scream about complexity and risk…while they “streamline” the working system and place actual health delivery into contingency positions that reduce direct care salaries as “cost reduction” concerns on their chopping block of market expedience and efficiency.

    Profit Driven Medicine orchestrated by running heavy debt, crisis and
    blaming the public sector and scapegoating the government tax systems for not compensating them enough…of course how can you pay them enough when salaries of these same administrators are surgical sponges to that system? It is a spiraling event provoked capture of Health reservoir resources; and just another way the 1% can tap into the main jugular of real society.

  16. No matter how much money a hospital loses or how close to bankruptcy, the CEO and administrators still must get the huge multi-million dollar salaries because their contracts say so. That is the primary difference between the more desirable Medicare for all and today’s system. With Medicare for all, CEO salaries would be similar to other govt dept managers.

  17. Money-Driven Medicine: The Real Reason Health Care Costs So Much Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 9, 2006
    by Maggie Mahar
    [Excerpted from the book review]:
    Mahar ….”her keen analytic talents and economic savvy to America’s complicated and increasingly dysfunctional health-care system. Mahar’s diagnosis: our privately managed yet mainly publicly funded system produces the worst of both worlds—high costs, rampant inefficiencies and intense competition among providers that doesn’t benefit patients. She traces how today’s market-driven medical system emerged over the past century thanks to trends that gradually stripped power from doctors and gave it to corporations, turning patients into profit centers.”

    “Before patients can reclaim their rightful place as the center—and indeed as the raison d’être—of our health care system,” Mahar suggests, “we must once again empower doctors . . . to practice patient-centered medicine—based not on corporate imperatives, doctors’ druthers, or even patients’ demands,” but on the best scientific research available.”

  18. The price of any product or service we buy includes elements of overhead as well as direct costs and profit. The cost of treating patients who cannot pay is part of the hospital’s overhead and it’s reasonable for hospitals to consider those costs when setting REASONABLE fees.

    However, the fee for the same services should be the same for all patients. Charging more for a patient who has “good” insurance for the same services and padding the bill with charges for services that were never provided should be a crime. Any good prosecutor would probably be able to find something to charge this hospital with. I suspect if someone went through that bill item by item, the bogus charges would leap out.


    Good news. They are being investigated.

    “Lake Norman Regional, a private for-profit hospital, is under scrutiny by others for questionable practices. In a 2010 lawsuit, recently unsealed in Mecklenburg County, two emergency room doctors alleged that Lake Norman and Davis Regional Medical Center in Statesville committed fraud by offering kickbacks to doctors who would order unnecessary tests and admit more patients to increase corporate revenues. The federal Department of Justice is also investigating.”

  20. The other layers of this are also disturbing, one being $5400 as co-pay? I don’t see why a simple snake bite / emergency room visit and (less than) day visit would cost a total of that, not even the co-pay. I would like to see the itemized bill. From what I can glean if 81K was for the antivenin of a 89K bill, the non antivenin costs were originally 8K – which is OUTRAGEOUS.

    And it begs the question of whether ANY antivenin was really needed – often copperhead bites medically need NONE. That’s right, NONE. People may want it or expect it, like antibiotics for a viral infection, but often they don’t really NEED it. It is a bit of an art, treating snakebite, but here in NC we have the most bites per person for copperheads in the nation, you’d think all hospital care would be up to snuff – even so it would be interesting to find out how well this hospital ranks regarding snakebite care – and an investigation of other bills…

    Smells fishy to me, even if they do taste like chicken.

    Insurance companies and hospitals running amok together, even after the mild insurance coverage reform (mixed with other things) the ACA is, seems depressingly like the Republican health care plan, as revealed by Alan Grayson

  21. Samantha, food prices do not go up because of food stamps, the recent rise has been due to other factors such as lack of water (drought) and rising fuel costs. These have been well documented and reported.

  22. Hard to believe so many Americans think our healthcare system is just fine and dandy.

    When purchasing the “product” is not optional, it should not be a for profit venture. Pretty simple really.

    I’ve got to start paying more attention to Justin Beiber – the state of the USA is making me physically ill – and lord knows how much is costs to see a doctor.

  23. To say that food stamps do not artificially increase demand and by extension, food prices, is like saying rivers do not rise when it rains.  Whenever the government throws money at anything, by rule, corruption and inflation always follow.  Think $90,000 to treat your snake bite!!!  Before the government began throwing money at healthcare (Medicare), people did not need insurance just to visit the doctor, according to my grandfather. As for drought, it creates opportunities elsewhere, helping to stabilize prices over the long haul. The food industry today is global.

  24. Lets study ten other countries that have differing versions of so called socialized medicine and then adopt the best model. We always hear these little itchBaying stories about not being able to get skin grafts and what not for beauty queens. People in Canada are laughing at us.

  25. The same week I received the second monthly statement in a row from my hospital with a $100 credit, I receive two collection callls from their agents demanding $199 and $10. They have no idea what’s going on internally or externally. BTW, it’s one of the largest networks in the country. Its head is nicknamed Toby, if that’ll help.

  26. It’s not just hospitals who use this flawed logic for billing it’s also the Veteran’s Administration. My older brother had a severe stroke about six years ago and is now in a veteran’s home. The veteran’s home is currently charging him about $8700 / month for his housing and food. He isn’t receiving therapy and he receives minimal doctor’s care so I questioned why is he billed over 100K / year. The veterans home responded that they charge him more because he can afford it.

  27. It would seem, samantha, you will be in for quite a rude awakening should you ever have to deal with caring for a family member and also negotiating with insurance companies, the government, and care providers.

    Hopefully by the time you need it our Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security and Veteran’s Administration will run more sensibly, efficiently, and humanely. If profit were removed from the cost of medical necessities, we would ALL pay less, get more, and options you seem to think are available now will be a reality.

    Medical care is even less of a commodity than food, which also is not when reduced to the basics for survival. When you need food, it is not an option or luxury, it’s survival. Heaven help you if you’re hungry and out of money, and if there were no food stamps available because people like you would have killed them.

    My grandfather also didn’t like the idea of Social Security when it was initiated. But when he retired, he took it and changed his mind. Things change. Our grandfather’s world has CHANGED. The market s for necessities like food are NOT a free market model nor have they ever been nor should they ever be. Laptops and bread are different. The opportunities created by drought are the theoretical ones armchair amateur economists spout from the comfort of their homes with full larders. Just as the proverbial liberal is a conservative who hasn’t been mugged yet’, so is a libertarian a progressive who hasn’t gotten a devastating illness yet. [example: Ron Paul’s campaign manager Kent Snyder ] Hope this doesn’t have to happen to you for you to investigate what is really going on, why, and how, and form more sophisticated reality-based opinions. Then posit some realistic possible solutions.

  28. Just as you think $89,000 for a snakebite is outrageous, I think $100,000 is outrageous for care. My question was sincere and legitimate. Me, I’d bring him into my home and hire necessary help; certainly it wouldn’t cost $100,000. Then there is the healing and emotional benefit that comes with being among family. Obviously, your bigotry is showing. You only respect someone else’s view if it happens to coincide with yours. Even then, you still run your thoughts, as your previous posts demonstrate. Keep posting, so we can see you step on your body parts again!

  29. Of course your grandfather took Social Security; he had been forced to pay into it. To suggest that Social Security is an entitlement, is like saying that filing a claim for an auto accident is an entitlement, too.

  30. “Thanks to a Supreme Court ruling and staunch Republican resistance, Marc Alphonse, an unemployed 40-year-old Marine veteran who is essentially homeless, cannot get health insurance under Obamacare.” (read on…)
    BY Jeffrey Young
    Millions Are Now Realizing They’re Too Poor For Obamacare
    Posted: 01/31/2014

  31. IndyRes wrote:
    “The veteran’s home is currently charging him about $8700 / month for his housing and food. He isn’t receiving therapy and he receives minimal doctor’s care so I questioned why is he billed over 100K / year. The veterans home responded that they charge him more because he can afford it.”

    That is terrible. In my view the veterans hospital should treat all patients with the same care and not go after the money like this.

  32. “While politicians and pundits alike inside the beltway beat up the White House over computer system glitches, health insurance companies still project robust revenue growth and profits from a boom in business from newly insured Americans under the Affordable Care Act.” Bruce Japsen

    When Obamacare Exchanges Launch, Premiums Will Be Low, Deductibles High 152,333 views Bruce Japsen

    “I’ve written about health care for more than two decades, starting from my native Iowa where I covered the presidential campaign bus rides of Bill and Hillary Clinton through the Hawkeye state talking health reform and the economy. I have covered the rise, fall and rise again of health reform, chronicling national trends as well as the influence of Barack and Michelle Obama from Chicago’s South Side on changes to the U.S. health system from my base in Chicago. I was the health care business reporter at the Chicago Tribune from 1998-2011 and previously wrote for Modern Healthcare magazine when first arriving in Chicago in 1993.” Bruce Japsen

    Health plan CEOs like Wellpoint’s Joe Swedish project robust revenue growth and profits from a boom in business from newly insured Americans under the Affordable Care Act. Bruce Japsen

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