A North Carolina man was left stunned after he was charged $2,300 for walking into an emergency room for a cat scratch.
Shyam Patil was scratched on the wrist by a cat outside his home in Charlotte, in September.
Unsure of whether the cat was a stray or caught up on its vaccination shots, Patil decided to call his doctor for medical advice, WBTV reports.
Pictured: Part of the medical bill issued to Patil after he visited the medical center in September
Shyam Patil decided to visit a medical center in Charlotte, North Carolina, after getting scratched by a cat and fearing rabies
Since the cat scratch drew blood, Patil’s doctor advised him to receive a precautionary rabies shot at a local emergency room since the medicine is not usually available at clinics.
While waiting at the ER, Patil began googling the price for rabies vaccinations and was floored by the results he saw in online articles.
One story detailed a similar experience where a woman was bitten by a cat and paid more than $40,000.
Patil attempted to ask medical staff what the cost of the shot would be, but he said they were unable to provide him with an estimate.
‘They don’t tell you the cost, they don’t tell you anything,’ he said.
Deciding he was uncomfortable with the looming medical bill, Patil left the ER.
‘Sometimes you feel that it is better to die if you have rabies then to incur this much debt,’ Patil said.
After leaving the ER, Patil learned that the cat who scratched him belonged to a neighbor and was up to date on vaccination shots.
Months passed without incident until Patil received a letter from the ER detailing the costs he owed for his visit.
Patil (pictured) was shocked when he received a bill for $2,500, saying ‘I didn’t even take the shot. What is this bill for?’
Patil said: ‘I got the bill for $2,500. I was like “I didn’t even take the shot. What is this bill for?”‘
A charge for more than $2,300 is shown for a level 3 emergency department visit, with additional costs for an anti-inflammatory pill administered for possible rabies exposure and a tetanus shot update that was due.
Medical Facility Fees
The Alliance defines medical fees as: ‘a charge that you may have to pay when you see a doctor at a clinic that is not owned by that doctor.’
They are often charged by clinics to help cover costs needed to maintain the facility.
It’s reported that facility fees vary from one center to the next, and are oftentimes not made public.
Based on a report by Vox, the price of facility fees has increased 89 percent between 2009 and 2015.
If Patil had gone through with the rabies shot, the bill shows he would have paid $13,048.55.
The CDC reports that rabies treatment costs between $1,200 and $6,500.
Atrium Health shared a statement with WBTV regarding the bills charges, saying some bills show the charges and don’t reflect the price patients may actually pay.
Price is apparently gauged on ‘several factors’ and the company could not get into the specifics of the bill due to HIPPA laws.
They said: ‘Following treatment, charges are assessed based on several factors, including the level of care needed, tests required, and the severity of the illness.’
‘HIPAA regulations and patient privacy laws prevent us from sharing details of this case, patient out-of-pocket costs are often dependent on a number of factors, including co-pays and deductibles that are part of a patient’s personal health insurance policy.’
‘We recognize healthcare expenses are often unplanned events for our patients and we work diligently to ensure our costs are consistent with the level of care we provide.’
Even with insurance, Patel said he owes more than $2,500 for the ER visit and the bill is due at the end of the month.
As shown on Patil’s bill, he would have paid mor than $13,000 if he had gone through with the rabies vaccination
Atrium Health lists the price of their service charges on their website, but it is unclear which service relates to the rabies vaccination.
While unconfirmed by Atrium Health, Patil’s $2,322 cost was most likely a ‘facility fee,’ or charge given to patients in addition to any other fees they procure.
These fees are usually thought to help maintain the medical facility upkeep utilities like electricity, but Vox reports these fees can vary from one hospital to another.
Vox says that emergency rooms oftentimes do not reveal their facility fees until after the patient has undergone treatment.
It is unclear how the company overseeing Patil’s bill determined the facility fee or decided on that specific amount.
DailyMail.com has reached out to Atrium Health for further comments.