By Bree Sison

September 29, 2020

RICHMOND, Va. — A young Richmond couple was astonished by medical bills listing more than $40,000 in charges for potential exposure to rabies after a small bat flew into their recently purchased home near Byrd Park.

Even worse, they thought the potentially lifesaving rabies shot would only cost them $500 each.

“We woke up at 1 a.m. and Shannan says, ‘there’s something in the bed,’” Dave Goodman, who described the creature as barely moving despite having made its way under their sheets, said.

Goodman easily trapped the bat in a pot and set it outside. The couple had no obvious bite wounds, so they went back to bed.

A friend later convinced them to seek medical care because rabies is 100 percent fatal in humans and bats are the most frequently reported rapid wildlife species.

Goodman’s girlfriend, Shannan Fitzgerald, called her primary care doctor and was told only an emergency room would be able to provide a critical rabies immune globulin shot to stop the virus from spreading.

The couple ultimately went to Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital but tried to be savvy healthcare consumers by asking for a price estimate upfront.

“They knew I was there to get a rabies shot, but it feels like they just decided not to include that on the quote,” said Goodman.

While stating it might not be the final charge, the written estimate and their conversation with a Bon Secours Patient Advocate led the couple to believe they would each be responsible for less than $500 after the hospital filed claims with their separate health insurance policies, both administered by Anthem.

“What I learned later was that was the cost of walking in the door,” said Goodman.

The cost of the immune globulin drug was listed as $18,582.65 on his bill and $17,001.45 on Fitzgerald’s bill.

Each bill also lists thousands of dollars in charges for the series of follow-up vaccines standard in post-exposure treatment. Instead of the $500 out-of-pocket costs they expected, Goodman and Fitzgerald are on the hook for their insurance deductibles of $4,000 and $3,000 respectively.

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