A week ago, a guman entered an Aurora, CO movie theatre at midnight and unleashed a barrage of death and injury upon the packed room. For most of America, the shock and horror was felt over the next few days. For the approximately 70 people injured, however, their nightmare is only beginning. It is also a perfect example of why the ACA (aka "Obamacare") is so vitally important.
The most contested provision of the ACA is the "mandate" that everyone carry insurance. The idea is to cut costs by reducing the amount of "free care" (paid for by tax dollars) that is provided in emergency rooms across the country. Why? Because emergency room care is very expensive. The mandate is there to encourage people who are young and healthy to maintain insurance, and collect a tax penalty to help cover the costs of emergency room care for those that don't.
The mandate has not yet gone into effect, which is why a lot of the young people in that theatre that night didn't have insurance. They are young, healthy, doing "all the right things", so they figure it's more cost effective to just pay the doctor out of pocket on those rare occassions they get sick. They didn't think they were doing anything unsafe, so they weren't worried about trauma care.
Trauma, however, is exactly the sort of thing insurance is for. It's good for health maintenance, true - the insurance companies have a vested interest in keeping you healthy. But really - it's mainly for those big ticket items.
Sadly, some of the victims of the Aurora shooting are learning that lesson too late. One uninsured shooting victim is facing $2,000,000 in medical costs
as a result of his injuries:
The family of Caleb Medley has been told that his medical bills could cost up to $2 million if he fully recovers, CBS News reports (h/t ThinkProgress). Medley, who lacks health insurance, is currently in an induced coma after he was shot in the eye during Friday's Colorado tragedy. His wife, Katie, gave birth to their son in the same hospital Tuesday.
Friends of Caleb Medley have set up a website to raise money to help pay for his medical care. The website has raised $70,000 so far, according to the Associated Press. Caleb was pursuing a career in stand-up comedy at the time of the shooting, according to the website set up by his friends.
Some of the hospitals are forgiving the costs to the victims
Some of the victims fighting for their lives after being wounded in the movie theater shooting rampage may face another challenge when they get out of the hospital: enormous medical bills without the benefit of health insurance.
And three of the five hospitals that treated victims said Wednesday they will limit or completely wipe out medical bills.
Even if the trauma care costs are forgiven, numerous victims will require therapy, or may be permanently disabled:
Some of the victims, however, still face a long recovery ahead and the associated medical costs — without health insurance. There's no exact count of how many of them don't have insurance but statistics suggest many of them might not be covered.
To be fair - health insurance isn't cheap, which at the root is part of the problem. This is why the "Medicare for All" option has been touted by me and others on the Left. The Republicans squawk about "freedom" and "liberty" when it comes to the ACA, and apparently they mean the freedom to be let the taxpayers cover their medical expenses when they don't have insurance. That taxpayer-covered bill can be pretty large when a madman unleashes his inner demons via the barrel of a gun.
It's bad enough we have a society that allows mass murderers to amass an arsenal that allows them to create this kind of carnage. Are we also going to ruin people's lives financially by making health care so cost-prohibitive? This should be Exhibit "A" for the unintended consequences of not having health insurance. The next big story is why
1/3 of the residents have no health insurance. The answer to that will point to where health care reform needs to go next.