Scorpion antivenom may be bringing the US healthcare system’s inequities and glaring issues to light, as the necessary treatment is costing into the many tens of thousands of dollars despite its relatively low price, and patients who need it are finding themselves in steep debt after a scorpion sting.
The scorpion antivenom issue is one that makes you wonder — does the US really have the best healthcare system in the world if necessary care such as this is enough to bankrupt someone unlucky enough to have been stung by a scorpion?
The relatively new scorpion antivenom costs only $100 per vial through the Mexican manufacturer that produces it. But thanks to a system where everyone gets a profit cut, by the time unlucky, scorpion-stung Americans get access to the needed and new treatment, that cost is … a bit higher. Like, $13,000 a vial higher.
And the scorpion antivenom isn’t only expensive in the singular — a typical treatment, one that is particularly necessary for elderly and young people who are stung — runs about three to five vials. All this works out to a bill exceeding $60,000 for one scorpion sting, and not surprisingly, insurance companies don’t want to foot the bill since it cuts into their profits.
ER doctor Brian Tiffany explained to an Arizona news site that withholding the pricey scorpion antivenom from people who are likely to fall ill is a lose-lose for everyone involved — while the serum is expensive, so too are the days of ICU care likely to result from an at-risk patient declining the scorpion antivenom due to cost:
“I can put a (patient) in the emergency room with all that wasted time and effort, or I can give them an incredibly expensive drug … It is a horrible position to put you (the patient) in.”
When one looks at the scorpion antivenom issue, it massively contrasts why a single-payer health care system could solve a lot of our problems when it comes to profit and medicine.