$143K Hospital Bill Shocks Snake Bite Victim

UCSD Exchange Student Dag-Are Trydal Bitten By Rattlesnake, Treated At Scripps La Jolla Hospital

A UC San Diego exchange student who is facing a $143,989 hospital bill for treatment after he was bitten by a rattlesnake spoke with 10News on Tuesday.

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"My jaw was dropping down," said Dag-Are Trydal, as he described his reaction to the medical bill for treatment after he was bitten by a rattlesnake.

Trydal's bill made headlines in Norway, where his insurance provider was quoted as saying the charges from Scripps La Jolla Hospital were the highest they had ever seen.

Trydal, an exchange student studying cybernetics at UCSD, was walking to his car on April 26 when he felt a sharp pain in his foot.

"I stepped two steps back just immediately and I was seeing that a snake was sitting right between my flip flops," he told 10News reporter Allison Ash. "I was really scared, because I don't know much about the snakes here and how dangerous they are,"

When a passerby told him Scripps Hospital was right across the street, he decided to walk there.

"As I was walking over, my heart started thumping and I could feel a tingling in my body and a metallic taste in my mouth," he said.

Trydal was admitted to the hospital and given four doses of antivenom over a 24-hour period. He was thrilled that the treatment worked and he could get back to his studies, until he heard from his insurance company.

That was when Trydal learned what his visit to the hospital cost: $143,989. He was shocked.

"I thought maybe $10,000," he said, noting that if he'd had the same treatment back home in Norway "it would have been free."

Trydal agreed to let the hospital release a copy of the bill to 10News. In it there are two separate charges for antivenin croatalidfab. The first charge is for $102,440 and the second is for $25,610. That is a total of $128,050.

"This is way too much, at least for a person that doesn't have good insurance," he said.

Trydal admitted he was glad he bought an insurance policy to cover him during his six months in the United States. When asked what would happen if he had not, Trydal responded, "That would be very, very bad. I try not to think about that."

A spokesperson for Scripps told 10News the antivenom is expensive and issued this statement:

"First and most importantly, we are grateful for Mr. Trydal’s recovery. We have reviewed our billing practices in this case and find all charges to be accurate and appropriate.

The largest portion of the charges was for antivenom, a very costly life-saving drug manufactured from snake venom. The patient required 10 units of the antivenom and a night in the Intensive Care Unit, which provides around-the-clock direct nursing supervision.

Scripps has standardized charges for all of our services and, like other health care organizations, we are reimbursed differently by each insurance provider or government payer based on our contracts.

It is important to understand that these charges are not reflective of what Scripps will be paid. At this time, the patient’s insurance company has not yet paid the bill, and Scripps is in negotiations with the company for the final amount. The patient will not be billed by Scripps."

Although Trydal said he believes the healthcare system in the US is "wrong," he declined to be too critical, saying his treatment at Scripps La Jolla was "excellent."

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