More than 100,000 people lose their lives every year after being bitten by a venomous snake although there are a whole lot more that don’t die but still feel the myriad of side effects, like trouble breathing, excess saliva, nausea, tingling sensation, or muscle numbness.
The Antivenom product was invented as a type of medicine used to fight against the effects of the venom that gets in your body when you’re bitten by a rattlesnake or another poisonous creature.
The venom threatens your life within the same day of being bitten, depending on how venomous is the snake, but the venom treatment is hard to find in most situations. As there are a lot of poisonous and venomous creatures, like snakes, spiders, scorpions, and so on, not all health care providers even have antivenom to counteract all of these types of bites.
A victim will have to go to the hospital as soon as possible to avoid risking their lives and the chances of survival are pretty high as long as the hospital knows what creature has bit them and has the needed venom in stock.
How much does antivenom cost?
One vial of Antivenom costs between $7,500 and $50,000 or more, according to multiple newspaper articles, which makes it very expensive. This price will depend on factors like what animal venom it is made to fight as well as the type of antivenom and the amount of venom you were injected with.
For example, when you only need one vial, according to the Smithsonian Magazine, you will probably spend up to $14,000.
According to the New York Daily News, a woman was stung by a scorpion and was administered an antivenom called Anascorp, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration and was priced at about $3,800 per dose.
Keep in mind that each hospital chooses whether it wants to follow the suggested retail price or not. Statistics show that most hospitals will usually sell antivenom for between $8,000 and $12,500. According to the The Arizona Republic, Metro Phoenix hospitals in the Arizona area charge around $12,500 per vial of antivenom.
The average vial cost, according to ZMEScience, is between $1,500 and $2,200, but your average snakebite will need about 20 to 25 vials to be completely neutralized.
According to an article from Time Magazine, a couple from North Carolina was charged a whopping $89,000 for their 18-hour emergency room stay. They were insured through a Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance policy and when that kicked in, they were only made to pay $5,400.
It is almost impossible to buy antivenom on your own over the counter legally, as it is always administered at a hospital. Currently, antivenom can be purchased and dispensed only by licensed veterinarians.
As long as the appropriate antivenom is available at the hospital where you are brought, it will be administered as soon as you arrive with a bite from a poisonous insect or animal. Even though most hospitals try to store antivenom for the animals that are native around them, not all of them will have antivenom when you need it.
The Smithsonian Magazine explains that the process behind creating antivenom is very complicated. The approach scientists usually use is to inject the most common snake venoms in sheep and then just harvest the newly created antibodies.
Rodents, chickens, donkeys, rabbits, goats, and horses are also used for this process. Still, scientists will have to monitor the venom and carefully measure and mix it with the right amount of water before they can inject it.
The animal’s immune system will need enough time to react. The antibodies take around 8 to 12 weeks to peak and only then can blood be harvested. Doctors will usually be able to harvest between three and six liters per session. The blood also has to be purified and centrifuged after it is harvested, so that it allows the antivenom to be separated.
What are the extra costs?
Each vial of antivenom has its price and the costs are almost never limited to a single vial. You won’t be able to get rid of toxins if you only use one vial when you are bitten or stung.
The Snakebiteinitiative.org website claims that patients will likely need between 5 and 10 vials of antivenom for the initial dose alone, although this depends on the animal that bites the patient. So if you need four vials and each antivenom vial costs $12,500, you will spend over $60,000 for the antivenom alone.
And regardless of how much antivenom you need or its type, as a patient you will probably need to spend several days hospitalized. Some online sources claim that it’s not uncommon for the final bill to reach $100,000 when you factor in the hospital markup pricing on a 12-vial course.
The severity of the damage the antivenom can pose and its type will usually dictate its price. An article from the Wide Open Country article had a picture from a local hospital with someone who had antivenom. He was charged for the vials and on top of that, he was also charged for laboratory services, therapy services, radiology, emergency car services, and intensive care room. This brought the budget to more than $153,000 for a rattlesnake bite.
Saving money on snake antivenom
Whether or not your insurance company will cover the antivenom cost will depend on the circumstances of your specific situation. It’s very important to talk to your insurance carrier as soon as possible, to know exactly what is covered, as each insurance policy will vary. Even if you are not covered, remember that your life is more important than your financial situation.