Breaking News
January 19, 2018 - Warm-up program for children cuts soccer injuries by 50%
January 19, 2018 - ‘You’re Old and You Need Tests’: What We Heard This Week
January 19, 2018 - Egg-preserving hysterectomy raises heart risks later: study
January 19, 2018 - GA-map Dysbiosis Test identifies IBS patients who respond to FODMAP diet, study shows
January 19, 2018 - Study explores mortality and health-related habits in former elite athletes and their brothers
January 19, 2018 - New biodegradable sensors could assist doctors
January 19, 2018 - Modular gene enhancers may be suitable target in treatment of blood cancer
January 18, 2018 - New precision medicine trial for metastatic pancreatic cancer
January 18, 2018 - Shire Receives FDA Breakthrough Therapy Designation for Maribavir, an Investigational Treatment for Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Infection in Transplant Patients
January 18, 2018 - Pre-Existing Patient-Valve Mismatch Trips Up ViV Implant
January 18, 2018 - Adolescents: health risks and solutions
January 18, 2018 - US woman delivers baby from embryo frozen for 24 years
January 18, 2018 - Study identifies new target for treatment of depression
January 18, 2018 - LJI study reveals key player that promotes skin inflammation in atopic dermatitis
January 18, 2018 - Study devises efficient and economical strategy to screen breast and ovarian cancer gene mutations
January 18, 2018 - Agile Therapeutics, Inc. Receives a Complete Response Letter from the FDA for Twirla (AG200-15) for the Prevention of Pregnancy
January 18, 2018 - Gene Therapy for Inherited Retinal Dystrophy Gets FDA Clearance
January 18, 2018 - Researchers identify a new chemical pathway that helps the brain detect sweet, savory and bitter flavors
January 18, 2018 - IBV develops platform that helps companies to diagnose wellbeing of their workforce
January 18, 2018 - Study to test new precision medicine approach for metastatic pancreatic cancer
January 18, 2018 - World’s first vaccine relieves grass pollen allergy symptoms by at least 25%, study shows
January 18, 2018 - FDA Approves New Indication for Gilotrif (afatinib) in EGFR Mutation-Positive NSCLC
January 18, 2018 - Oncologists Dish on Top Issues for 2018
January 18, 2018 - Researchers identify new potential drug target for Huntington’s disease
January 18, 2018 - Metrohm USA welcomes employees to new headquarters in Florida
January 18, 2018 - Human waste remains main source of fecal pollution in the river Danube
January 18, 2018 - Expert discusses how to stay healthy during flu season
January 18, 2018 - New biomaterials-based system improves T-cell production
January 18, 2018 - Novel gene expression analysis technique can accurately and quickly measure RNA
January 18, 2018 - Grandparents Help Shape Kids’ Views on Aging
January 18, 2018 - Absolutely Zero Stent Thrombosis at 5 Years With Bioabsorbable MiStent
January 18, 2018 - Safe Sleep for Babies | VitalSigns
January 18, 2018 - Pfizer to launch own little white pill
January 18, 2018 - Aged garlic extract may help obese people fight against inflammation, study shows
January 18, 2018 - Study reveals the link between low fitness and increased waist circumference
January 18, 2018 - Sex steroid hormone fluctuations may have direct effects on eye physiology and AMD
January 18, 2018 - Patients with monoclonal gammopathy at risk of developing cancer even after 30 years
January 18, 2018 - Researchers reveal potential of multivalent antibodies for HIV prevention, treatment and cure
January 18, 2018 - Dying cancer patients receiving assisted hydration live longer
January 18, 2018 - Potential male birth control pill could be developed from arrow poison
January 18, 2018 - Research reveals cost-effectiveness of whole-population screening for breast, ovarian cancer gene mutations
January 18, 2018 - Genes involved in spinal cord repair of lamprey also present in mammals, study reveals
January 18, 2018 - Researchers unravel key molecular mechanism of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases
January 18, 2018 - The State of the Drug Discovery Nation Unveiled as New Report Provides Vital Insights for the Development of New Medicines
January 18, 2018 - Dutch Study Links Implants to Increased Breast-ALCL Risk
January 18, 2018 - Five addiction experts weigh in on future of opioid crisis. Their forecast: grim
January 18, 2018 - EXD2 enzyme facilitates protein production in mitochondria
January 18, 2018 - Kessler Foundation wins $735,000 grant for training rehabilitation researchers
January 18, 2018 - Researchers find new way to halt growth of breast cancer cells
January 18, 2018 - Cantex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Announces FDA Orphan Drug Designation Has Been Granted to CX-01 for Treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukemia
January 18, 2018 - Civilians Now Getting Flu-Like Illness Afflicting Troops
January 18, 2018 - Discovery brings stem cell therapy for eye disease closer to the clinic
January 18, 2018 - Guts of surfers more likely to be colonized by antibiotic-resistant bacteria, study reveals
January 18, 2018 - Bacteria linked to periodontitis may play role in onset of cancer
January 18, 2018 - Jazz Pharmaceuticals Submits New Drug Application for Solriamfetol (JZP-110) for Excessive Sleepiness Associated with Narcolepsy and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
January 18, 2018 - Early Menarche, Menopause Tied to Higher CVD Risk
January 18, 2018 - Pioneering new technique could boost understanding of causes of heart disease
January 18, 2018 - New brain imaging techniques show how infants’ brains process ‘touch’
January 18, 2018 - GSK Receives FDA Approval for Expanded Indication for Fluarix Quadrivalent (Influenza Vaccine) for Persons 6 Months and Older
January 18, 2018 - Blood Markers Point to Maladaptive LV Remodeling
January 18, 2018 - Effect of gut bacteria on specific immune cells underlies persistent liver inflammation
January 18, 2018 - Study reveals new diabetes gene in families with rare blood sugar conditions
January 18, 2018 - Fewer Hospitals Closed After Obamacare Expanded Medicaid
January 18, 2018 - At-Home Breath Training Improves Asthma Quality of Life
January 18, 2018 - Obesity can add five weeks of asthma symptoms per year in preschoolers
January 18, 2018 - Neuronal loss is very limited in Alzheimer’s disease, shows new study
January 18, 2018 - A new strategy proposed for drug discovery
January 17, 2018 - Lactation May Lower T2D Risk in Younger Women
January 17, 2018 - New Atopic Dermatitis Yardstick provides practical guidance and management insights
January 17, 2018 - New biodegradable pressure sensor could help monitor serious health conditions
January 17, 2018 - HSS orders Sectra’s 3D pre-operative planning solution for improving patient outcomes
January 17, 2018 - Study identifies six new genes regions associated with diabetes
January 17, 2018 - Women do not receive timely diagnosis for heart disease
January 17, 2018 - AbbVie’s Upadacitinib Shows Positive Results as Monotherapy in Phase 3 Rheumatoid Arthritis Study, Meeting All Primary and Key Secondary Endpoints
January 17, 2018 - Should President Trump’s Physical Include a Cognitive Screen?
January 17, 2018 - Could gene therapy someday eliminate HIV?
January 17, 2018 - Researchers identify new anti-inflammatory drug target
January 17, 2018 - Loxo Oncology Initiates Rolling Submission of New Drug Application to U.S. Food and Drug Administration for Larotrectinib for the Treatment of TRK Fusion Cancers
January 17, 2018 - Trunk Imaging Tied to Higher Nephrectomy Risk
January 17, 2018 - Campaigners incensed at failings in Africa AIDS war
Beyond the shattered lives and bodies, money worries weigh on Las Vegas victims

Beyond the shattered lives and bodies, money worries weigh on Las Vegas victims

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

Kurt Fowler and his wife, Trina, were celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary at a country music festival when the shooting started. Fowler, 41, knew he’d been hit in the ankle and couldn’t run. He hid under the stage until the gunfire ended.

“I knew my foot was completely useless,” said Fowler, a firefighter from Lake Havasu City, Ariz., and a father of three. He underwent surgery, spent nearly two weeks in the hospital and still may need another operation. He also will need rehabilitation and follow-up visits with a specialist.

Fowler has a Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO through his job, but he said he doesn’t know how much he will have to pay out of his own pocket for the care he is receiving. In an era of higher deductibles and limited choice of in-network doctors, however, he knows he could face significant medical bills.

His insurance card says his individual deductible is $5,000 and his coinsurance 20 percent. He said he didn’t know how much his health plan would cover for out-of-state care.

“Medical expenses are astronomical these days,” Fowler said from his bed at Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center here. “It’s a mountain that just doesn’t seem like it’s gonna be climbable, but we are gonna do our best.”

As hundreds of survivors struggle to recover emotionally and physically from the Oct. 1 attack, they are beginning to come to terms with the financial toll of the violence perpetrated against them. Even those who are insured could face untold costs in a city they were only visiting.

The total costs of medical care alone could reach into the tens of millions of dollars, said Garen Wintemute, who researches gun violence at the University of California-Davis. And that is just the beginning. Many survivors will be out of work for months, if they are able to return at all.

“We really don’t have a good handle on the intangible costs of something like this … the ripple effects on family and friends and neighborhoods when a large number of people have been shot,” Wintemute said.

More than 100,000 people are shot every year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That generates about $2.8 billion per year in emergency room and inpatient charges alone, according to a recent study in Health Affairs. The average emergency room bill for an individual gunshot victim is $5,254 and the average inpatient charge is $95,887, according to the study.

The U.S. senators representing Nevada, Dean Heller and Catherine Cortez Masto, wrote a letter to America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group, and CEO Scott Serota of Blue Cross Blue Shield requesting help with out-of-network bills, copayments and deductibles for the Las Vegas shooting victims. Many of the people who were shot had traveled from other states, including California, Iowa and Tennessee.

California and some states protect consumers from such bills, but Nevada is not one of them, said Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms. But Corlette said most insurers allow patients to request exceptions based on the circumstances. “In this situation, I imagine most insurers are going to want to be compassionate and work something out,” she said.

The victims and their families aren’t the only ones who will be affected financially by the mass shooting. Taxpayers, too, pick up much of the tab for the health care costs associated with gun violence because many patients are covered by Medicaid and Medicare, two government insurance programs.

And hospitals will also be on the hook for some of the care for patients who don’t have insurance. Hospitals in Las Vegas quickly mobilized to treat the hundreds of victims who were streaming in that night, and they don’t know yet how much of the care will be reimbursed.

At Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center, staff treated more than 200 patients. Sunrise plans to file insurance claims and will “be extremely sensitive to the financial status” of patients when considering their out-of-pocket portions, a spokeswoman said.

Valley Hospital Medical Center is encouraging patients to complete paperwork for a state program called Nevada Victims of Violent Crime, which would pay their balances. And Dignity Health’s St. Rose Dominican said it will bill insurers and accept donations but will not require payment from victims.

California victims can also get help with medical expenses and income loss from the California Victim Compensation Board.

In addition, a GoFundMe account started by a Clark County commissioner has raised $11 million thus far. And many survivors have individual GoFundMe accounts.

Kurt Fowler’s GoFundMe page has raised about $39,000. Fowler said he doesn’t have disability insurance so he will rely on the funds to help cover his expenses while he is recovering and missing work.

Michael Caster, 41, who lives in Indio, Calif., has a GoFundMe account that has raised about $26,000 so far. He’s paralyzed from the waist down after a bullet lodged in his spine.

At Sunrise Hospital, doctors drained the blood from Caster’s lungs and removed some of the bullet fragments. Sitting in a hospital bed 11 days after the shooting, Caster said he didn’t know how much of his care would be covered by his health insurance.

He works in human resources at a California hospital and has a job-sponsored policy with Anthem Blue Cross. “I’ve never really dealt with injury,” he said. “I don’t want to be stuck with a bunch of bills.”

His bills could rise further: That day, he was scheduled to be flown to a rehabilitation center in Colorado for people with spinal cord injuries.

Mary Moreland, whose daughter Tina Frost was shot during the country music festival, said that at first she didn’t understand why so many families were setting up fundraisers. Then, the severe financial strain the shooting would take started to dawn on her.

Now, Moreland said she’s grateful for the $580,000-plus raised through GoFundMe.

Frost, a resident of San Diego, had emergency brain surgery the night of the shooting. A bullet had pierced her eye and exploded in her brain. As she lay in ICU earlier this month, her mother said small improvements were major milestones. “Today she squeezed my hands,” Moreland said.

The next night, Frost came out of a medically induced coma and was later flown to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, near her mother’s home. Over the next weeks and months, she will need multiple operations and a slew of specialists, including neurosurgeons, plastic surgeons, occupational therapists and mental health counselors.

Moreland said she cannot even begin to imagine what her daughter’s care will cost. Frost has Blue Cross insurance through her job at Ernst & Young in San Diego, but Moreland said she doesn’t know what the deductible and copayments are.

“Being realistic, knowing what I know about costs of health care, it’s scary,” Moreland said. “But she’s alive. She’s not one of the 58 other people.”

KHN’s coverage in California is funded in part by Blue Shield of California Foundation.

Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles