National

Posted: August 11, 2017

Snakebite victim stunned by $30,000 helicopter bill


By Jared Leone, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

PLANO, Texas —

Don’t get him wrong, Hugh Sparks is thankful for the speedy care doctors were able to provide in order to save his life after he was bitten by a rattlesnake.

However, Sparks is feeling a bite of another kind after getting hit with a $30,000 bill for the emergency helicopter ride so he could receive the needed antivenom.

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Sparks negotiated his $127,199.18 hospital bill with his insurance so he only had to pay $3,215.11, according to WFAA.

"I was happy. I was paying them with a smile on my face. I was thinking, 'Yes, you probably saved my life. I love you guys. I want to pay you,” Sparks told WFAA. “Then I got the helicopter bill and then my mood changed. That was actually more traumatic than when I realized I was bitten by a rattlesnake.”

Insurance would pay a small portion of the $43,514.56 bill, leaving Sparks on the hook to pay $29,687.41 for the 47-mile helicopter trip from Haskell to Abilene, according to WFAA.

Air Evac LifeTeam said its cost include the lease and maintenance of the aircraft and staffing it with nurses, paramedics, pilots and mechanics.

“When Air Evac LifeTeam is called by an EMS provider, first responder or hospital, we do not ask for insurance information before accepting a flight. We provide access to a higher level of care, and the cost to provide that access is 87 percent fixed,” Air Evac LifeTeam said.

Sparks said he will renegotiate with his insurance provider hoping to reduce his portion due for the helicopter bill.

“This makes my life difficult,” he said. “But this will ruin other people.”

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