$10,000 treatment bill haunts man with possible bat bite - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

$10,000 treatment bill haunts man with possible bat bite


MADISON (WKOW) -- 28-year-old Joel Weirauch of Madison's encounter with a bat left him with no scars.

But it has left him with medical costs of over $10,000.

Weirauch told 27 News he awoke in the middle of the night in September with a bat on his head. Weirauch said he trapped the bat and removed it from his apartment. He said friends encouraged him to seek treatment right away for a possible bite.

"You certainly are not likely to feel it," St. Mary's Hospital Emergency Room Director Dr. Kyle Martin told 27 News.

"They don't necessarily leave any marks on the skin, or any breaks in the skin."

Martin said the Centers for Disease Control warn a suspected bat bite should be treated as a potential rabies case. Martin said the possibility of transmission of rabies from a bat to a human being is much higher than from a bite by another animal, such as a cat or dog.

While Martin said a patient can seek immunizations at a clinic, Weirauch told 27 News staff at the Madison clinic within his health insurance plan told him they could not provide the first phase of needed immunizations for potential rabies, and directed him to either St. Mary's or UW Hospital.

After his treatment at St. Mary's, Weirauch said his insurance company informed him the hospital was considered an out-of-network provider, and he would be responsible for most of the bill.

"I called the hospital to see what my bill was, and that's when they told me it was $10,000," Weirauch told 27 News.

"I was really floored," Weirauch said.

Weirauch's billing from St. Mary Hospital includes $9,112.80 for units of rabies immune globulin.

A listing of maximum reimbursements for Medicare Part B patients for the same units is just over $1,000.

St. Mary's Hospital spokesperson Steve Van Dinter told 27 News the Medicare Part B reimbursement rate for the rabies immune globulin is less than the wholesale cost of the units charged to the hospital.

Van Dinter said patients with health insurance plans affiliated with St. Mary's Hospital receive a twenty percent discount on the price of the units, as do patients who make cash payments in full.

Weirauch's health insurance carrier at the time of his treatment was Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Illinois.

Weirauch disputes the company's interpretation of his benefits. He told 27 News the plan allows for any hospital to be considered an in-network provider, if the treatment is considered the result of an emergency, and is provided within seventy-two hours.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois spokesperson Maryann Schultz told 27 News she reserves comment, until company officials review Weirauch's health insurance coverage more completely.

Weirauch told 27 News he chose treatment at St. Mary's Hospital because it was one of the recommended options; he was unfamiliar with UW Hospital; and he was "freaking out" about the potential harm from the bat.

Wierauch said his plans to buy a house are on hold, unless a greater portion of his bat-bill is covered by insurance, or forgiven.  


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