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Jul 30 2012

CO Hospitals Wipe Out Medical Bills of Shooting Survivors

It’s been widely reported that many of the survivors of the shootings in Aurora, Colorado don’t have health insurance and could face massive bills for the treatment they’ve received. But now some of the hospitals that treated them have agreed to wipe out those bills:

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.

Members of the public, along with Warner Bros., the studio that released the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises,” have contributed nearly $2 million to help victims, though it’s not clear how much of that will cover medical expenses. One family is raising money on its own online.

And three of the five hospitals that treated victims said Wednesday they will limit or completely wipe out medical bills…

Children’s Hospital Colorado announced it would use donations and its charity care fund to cover the medical expenses of the uninsured. For those who do have insurance, the hospital says it will waive all co-pays.

“We are committed to supporting these families as they heal,” according to a statement from the hospital, which treated six shooting victims.

I’m glad to see them doing this, but it raises a rather obvious question: Do the victims of this shooting deserve such consideration any more than, say, a victim of cancer or heart disease or any other condition that can lead to huge medical bills that can’t possibly be paid without insurance (and often even with it)? That doesn’t mean the hospitals should always forgive such medical bills, nor is it a slam on hospitals in general; indeed, this article points out that two of the three hospitals who have done this provided a combined $750 million in free care last year alone. But should we applaud this as a society and then deny the same thing to others who face medical bills that could bankrupt them?

25 comments

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  1. 1
    baz1

    Well it’s good news that they are doing this, but to someone who has grown up in the UK in a society where the NHS is taken for granted, inconceivable to me that they HAD TO in the first place……..

  2. 2
    jakc

    Exactly. I don’t want people to rely on charity health care. I’m not even that excited by kludged up conservative idea like Obama care. People deserve a taxpayer supported health care system that they can rely on, not the lottery we have now

  3. 3
    richardelguru

    baz1 Wel they wouldn’t want SOCIALIZED medicine would the stupid bastards!

  4. 4
    richardelguru

    Hell I lost an ‘L’ in my previous.

    It’s amazing how when they compare medicine in various countries the US comes way down every list apart from the one showing costs.

  5. 5
    Kevin Anthoney

    Or maybe they could tax guns & ammo to pay for future tragedies like this?

  6. 6
    Anthony K

    Do the victims of this shooting deserve such consideration any more than, say, a victim of cancer or heart disease or any other condition that can lead to huge medical bills that can’t possibly be paid without insurance (and often even with it)?

    But remember the socialised healthcare meme: people who are responsible for their poor health outcomes don’t deserve treatment, but they can pay for it. Cancer? Heart disease? You’ve probably been eating at Hooters too often. Not spending enough time outside teaching Butch how to throw a curveball. Disease is a moral failing.

    The victims of a tragic shooting in which they played no part but victim (except, of course, their failure to carry their own guns and draw them in time to shoot James Holmes’ bullets out of the air) are deserving. Like fetuses.

    But not everybody is. Especially not those kids who refused to take Nancy Reagan’s advice and just say no. And especially not those welfare queens.

  7. 7
    Bronze Dog

    I’ve got a similar feel about it. On one hand, charity is good. On the other, we’ve got a lot of people who won’t get good care or will get a life-changing bill because their illness or injuries aren’t the subject of mass media attention.

    So, yeah. We really need a better health care system. It’s nice that people are giving, but it has the danger of letting them feel good without acknowledging or fixing the underlying problem.

  8. 8
    Artor

    I get it now! If your kid comes down with leukemia, you just need to make sure he does it in a spectacular, newsworthy way, so the hospital can get good PR for treating him free of charge. It’s as simple as that. Who says the US medical system doesn’t work?

  9. 9
    Area Man

    I smell a moral hazard. If those hospitals are willing to wipe out those bills, what incentive to people have not to get shot? Where’s the personal responsibility?

  10. 10
    arakasi

    If your kid comes down with leukemia, you just need to make sure he does it in a spectacular, newsworthy way, so the hospital can get good PR for treating him free of charge

    Well, you can always look convincingly pathetic so a dozen stores in your community would set up donation buckets in your name. That $20 in mixed change is sure going to go far in offsetting your bills for chemo

  11. 11
    Chiroptera

    Brownian, #6: Like fetuses.

    Fetuses deserve health care? I suspect that the anti-health crowd think their job is done when they’ve save the poor dears’ lives; I think they wouldn’t advocate free pre-natal health care for mother and “child.”

  12. 12
    Anthony K

    Well played, Area Man.

  13. 13
    Anthony K

    Fetuses deserve health care? I suspect that the anti-health crowd think their job is done when they’ve save the poor dears’ lives;

    They do, and that’s why I wrote fetuses. They’re only innocent when they’re in the womb. Once they make contact with the vagina, they’re Original Sin-flavoured.

    Of course, while I am making fun of a somewhat conservative position, the idea of disease as a moral failing is pretty omnipresent in most of us, to some degree. How can it not be, given that the very concept of disease is a socially, as well as biologically constructed one? How many of us see an obese person in the check-out line and sneak a peek into the cart to justify our preconception that it’s full of Cheetos and Coke Zero?

    There’s an implicit punishment in having to pay for treatment. It satisfies our just-world hypothesis. It’s only when it’s too cognitively difficult to assign the victims a portion of the blame that we decide the victims should not be further punished by having to pay.

  14. 14
    Anthony K

    I think they wouldn’t advocate free pre-natal health care for mother and “child.”

    Forgot to address this part: remember, the fetus itself is a punishment. Women who haven’t planned well enough in advance for childbirth (presumably by marrying a well-to-do man) should have thought about the repercussions when they decided to pervert that perfect gift from God: sex.

    Anyway, this is conjecture on my part. I’m not well informed enough about anti-choice groups to know whether or not they generally support free pre-natal health care.

  15. 15
    tacitus

    Well it’s good news that they are doing this, but to someone who has grown up in the UK in a society where the NHS is taken for granted, inconceivable to me that they HAD TO in the first place……..

    Indeed. It was nice to see the NHS being recognized so prominently in the Opening Ceremony too (much to the annoyance of conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic).

    The NHS is taken for granted, but it is still very much appreciated by those who had cause to use it, with approval into the high 70s percent amongst recent patients.

    My personal US health insurance premium goes up 20% next month, and it’s more than doubled in less than five years. I’ve had medical bills totaling less than $500 in that time. I’m fortunate that if the worst comes to the worst, I can always head back to the UK as I’m a British citizen, but millions of Americans don’t have that luxury.

    Something’s got to give eventually.

  16. 16
    lorn

    In so many cases it is the stupidity of a system that allows parts of that selfsame system to put themselves in a better light. If we had universal healthcare it would be a given that their medical costs are covered. But then the hospitals, movie studio, and various charities, wouldn’t have such golden opportunities to make themselves look good by allowing a few crumbs to fall from their table.

    I did job a while back and put in a lot of long hours. The employer paid overtime, for which I was grateful, but they did so as a favor because the employment system is so broken that their were allowed to hire me as a salaried employee when the job should be, always has been in the past, a hourly position. There was also an implied threat in the favor. Favors can be withdrawn. If I didn’t cooperate with enthusiasm and a smile the overtime work would be viewed as covered by the salary. Not much I could do about that. It is a fight I couldn’t win without risking losing the job entirely.

    A lot of things are structured this way. IMO it would be simple for credit card companies and credit rating agencies to implement a PINs and passwords that would secure your CC and credit. But there is an entire industry out there, much of it run by the same people running CC companies, that makes money off extra fees and services intended to fill that security gap. In other words misuse of CCs and identity theft isn’t a bug; its a feature. A feature that increases profits by increasing the risk to the consumer.

    The healthcare system in the US is broken and people are making a whole lot of money off it being broken and keeping it broken. But then again, that isn’t the most galling part of it. Being broken allows people to exploit this brokenness to make themselves look good. Something close to 300 million people in the US have, or will have, issues with healthcare. Almost all of those problems go away with universal healthcare. But instead of solving the problem for the many, for all time, the well to do spend there time and efforts flicking crumbs off their table to help a tiny minority in a special situation.

    People suffering and dying trapped in a system they profit off of but they get get headlines for drying the tears of a crying child.

  17. 17
    lofgren

    Of course this situation never would have arisen if those patients had been armed to the teeth to begin with. Everybody knows that more guns equals less crime, and a firefight in a crowded movie theater full of tear gas is the safest and most effective means of preventing gunshot wounds. Because instead of being wounded, they’d all be dead. The hospitals are the victims of Colorado’s extremely strict gun control laws, such as not requiring a permit or registration of any kind without which almost everybody in the theater would have been packing.

  18. 18
    Pinky

    I think this is a typical American tale:

    My daughter is in her late twenties. She works at an entry level job in her field and despite a four year degree, is not paid very well. She has no health care.

    After fighting pain as long as she could one weekend she went to the local hospital emergency room. She was diagnosed with a minor problem and sent a $6,000 bill.

    $6,000 fee for the fifteen minutes of health care crammed into the eight hour travail of a typical American emergency room visit.

    Six thousand dollars debt added to a young person starting out in the world, wondering how her low wages with pay her education loans and now her medical costs.

    I have a friend whose favorite conspiracy theory is a scheme to crush the middle class and poor in enough debt so they are afraid to make waves against the government.

    I don’t scoff at his theory as much as I once did.

  19. 19
    Modusoperandi

    Brownian “Anyway, this is conjecture on my part. I’m not well informed enough about anti-choice groups to know whether or not they generally support free pre-natal health care.”
    This omnibus page doesn’t seem to cover that, but from the rest I’d say a Venn Diagram would show reasonable overlap between them and “against it” (see, for illustration, the cases of Teabaggers v Obamacare, GOP v Medicaid or “Small Government Conservative” v Ladyparts).

  20. 20
    Pen

    This epitomises everything that’s wrong with a lack of universal health care coverage. People’s access to treatment, even their right to life in some cases, is dependent on how much sympathy they can elicit. Just try being in a low sympathy-eliciting group!

  21. 21
    davem

    two of the three hospitals who have done this provided a combined $750 million in free care last year alone

    That tells me so much about how hospitals are overcharging. So TWO hospitals can afford to give away 375 million each? That’s more than a million dollars a day for each hospital. Staggering. Dog bless the NHS.

  22. 22
    Raging Bee

    But should we applaud this as a society and then deny the same thing to others who face medical bills that could bankrupt them?

    Of course we should — that’s the American way: bravely solving problems without ever allowing ourselves to talk about what caused them in the first place.

    Besides, it’s consistent with our current practice of stripping “others” of their basic rights while magnanimously ensuring that “deserving” people are safe.

  23. 23
    Raging Bee

    That tells me so much about how hospitals are overcharging.

    It should also tell you WHY they’re overcharging.

  24. 24
    democommie

    ” I’m not well informed enough about anti-choice groups to know whether or not they generally support free pre-natal health care.”.

    It’s not a steep learning curve. People who don’t like people who fuck indiscriminately seem to enjoy fucking over people indiscriminately.

    How many teabaggists were in that crowd of theater goers? How many were injured? If it was at about the 26% level, how many will admit to their political affiliation while accepting that socialist free medical care?

  25. 25
    Modusoperandi

    democommie “How many teabaggists were in that crowd of theater goers? How many were injured? If it was at about the 26% level, how many will admit to their political affiliation while accepting that socialist free medical care?”
    Now you’re just being ridiculous. They wouldn’t accept that. They’re already on Medicare.

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