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Aurora shooting: Uninsured victims face hefty bills

Health Insurance Does Not Insure Health

Health Insurance Does Not Insure Health (Photo credit: SavaTheAggie)
Some of the victims fighting for their lives after being wounded in last week’s Colorado theatre rampage may face enormous medical bills without health insurance.

The United States doesn’t have universal health coverage, though hospitals are required by law to stabilise patients during emergencies without regard to their ability to pay. The Obama Administration’s healthcare overhaul would cover millions more, but Republicans object to its cost.

Members of the public have contributed nearly US$2 million ($2.5 million) to help victims, including the Warner Bros studio that released the Batman movie that was showing when the gunman opened fire. But it’s not clear how much of that money will cover medical expenses.

One victim’s family is already raising money online and three of the five hospitals treating victims have said they will limit or wipe out bills.

An unknown number of victims, however, still face a long recovery and the associated medical costs without health insurance.

Nearly one in three Coloradans, or about 1.5 million, either have no health insurance or have inadequate coverage, according to a 2011 report by The Colorado Trust.

The highest uninsured rate is among adults aged between 18 and 34. Many victims are in that group.

Among the uninsured is a 23-year-old aspiring comic, Caleb Medley, who is in critical condition with a head wound. His wife, Katie, gave birth to their first child on Tuesday.

His family and friends said they have set a goal of raising US$500,000 to cover his expenses and were more than halfway there on Thursday.

Children’s Hospital Colorado, which treated six victims, announced it would use donations and its charity care fund to cover the medical expenses of the uninsured.

HealthOne, which owns the Medical Centre of Aurora and Swedish Medical Centre, also says it will limit or eliminate charges based on patients’ circumstances. Those hospitals have treated 22 victims.

The other two hospitals, Denver Health Medical Centre and University of Colorado Hospital, where Medley is, wouldn’t say whether they would assist shooting victims.


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