Dog bites are fairly common in the US. And seniors are the group that’s second most likely to get a dog bite (children being the most likely).
So a common question many seniors have is, “Does Medicare cover dog bites?” In this article, we answer this question in clear, plain English. You will also find the average costs of dog bites, as well as other helpful info.
Does Medicare Cover Dog Bites?
The short answer is yes; Medicare will cover the cost of dog bites. But not 100% of the time. As is often the case with Medicare, certain conditions have to be met in order for Medicare to pay for your dog bites. Below we look at what these are so you know what to expect.
If you require medical attention due to a dog bite, Medicare will generally cover treatment for those injuries. However, if the dog owner has homeowner’s insurance, that insurance may cover the costs of medical treatment.
If Medicare pays the bills but then finds out that the dog owner’s insurance should have covered the costs, Medicare may want reimbursement costs from the dog bite victim.
If you require a rabies vaccine, then Medicare Part B will cover the cost of rabies vaccination. However, for Part B to cover the costs, it must be medically necessary. For example, getting bitten by a dog with rabies.
Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) also cover rabies vaccination. They cover everything Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) covers and some additional benefits.
How Much Does Rabies Vaccination Cost?
The rabies vaccination usually costs between $1,200 and $6,500. But a good average cost for a course of rabies immune globulin along with 4 doses of vaccine is about $3,800 according to the CDC. This does not include any costs of wound care or treatment at a hospital.
What Is Rabies?
Though it is an animal disease, rabies can make the jump to humans if you are bitten by an infected animal. Rabies is mostly common in mammals such as dogs, cats, bats, raccoons, and skunks. It is commonly transmitted to humans through bites from unvaccinated dogs.
Rabies can be lethal to those who get it. Symptoms of rabies may show weeks or even years after transmission. Symptoms of rabies include fatigue, irritability, fever, and headaches. Follow-up symptoms may include paralysis, hallucinations, and seizures.
Companies make the rabies vaccine out of the dead rabies virus. This makes the person getting the vaccine immune to it without infecting them.
About the Rabies Vaccine
You can either get the vaccine before you get a bite as prevention. Or you can get it after being infected by the disease.
Vaccination before getting infected is called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PreEP) while vaccination after getting infected is called postexposure prophylaxis (PEP).
PreEP vaccination is given in three doses on different dates. The first dose will be administered when appropriate, the second dose will follow a week after the first, and the third dose will be given 21 or 28 days after the first administration.
PEP vaccination will be distributed into four doses and a shot of Rabies Immune Globulin if the patient has not received PreEP. The first dose and the Rabies Immune Globulin will be given immediately after the infection. Then the second will be administered on the 3rd day after administration. The third dose will follow on the 7th day and the fourth on the 14th day.
PEP vaccination will be distributed into 2 doses without Rabies Immune Globulin if the patient has received PreEP. The first dose will be given right away followed by the second on the 3rd day.
Note: Medicare coverage changes all the time. And your specific coverage may vary from plan to plan for Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans. Always be sure to double check with your health care provider and/or Medicare insurance provider about what your plan covers and what it does not.
Additional Info on Medicare Coverage
This article is part of our series on “What does Medicare cover?”
Also, you can check out other articles in this series including: Does Medicare cover Coolief knee treatment?