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Survivors of Aurora Shooting Face Serious Financial Consequences

If Caleb Medley makes it through his ordeal, he will be lucky to be alive. He will also be lucky if he can find a way to pay for his hospital stay.

If it’s not appropriate to use the tragedy in Colorado as a catalyst for talking about gun control, perhaps it’s appropriate to use it as a jumping off point for a discussion about the out-of-control costs of health care.

I recently detailed some of the mounting medical costs one could face if struck by a heart attack, like actor Michael Clarke Duncan was earlier this month.

But for victims of violent tragedies like the one in Colorado, where 12 people died, the costs can be even greater. In the aftermath of the shooting, one man’s experience has been particularly captivating. 

During the rampage, Caleb Medley was shot through the eye. In addition to dealing with his own injuries, his wife, Katie, also gave birth to a baby while he was in a medically induced coma in the hospital.

If Medley makes it through this ordeal, he will be lucky to be alive. He will also be lucky if he can find a way to pay for his hospital stay. He has no health insurance. 

So far, reports from his website, CalebMedley.com/help, say that Medley is in the intensive care unit (ICU), on a ventilator and has already been through three surgeries. He is expected to be in the ICU for one to two weeks or more. He has “received over 4 liters of blood, and must go back to get his right eye removed and the pellets from the shot gun removed.”

A study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that the average first day cost for a patient on medical ventilation is $10,794. Second day costs are $4,796 and the cost on the third day and days after are generally $3,968.

There is also the very high cost of surgery that I detailed in the previous article. Right now, Medley’s friends and family have estimated that his total hospital bills could total more than $1 million (not an outlandish estimate). In response, they have organized a fundraiser that has generated more than $215,000.

Without insurance, Katie and Caleb are also looking at a bill of around $9,000 to $17,000 for the delivery of their baby, according to CostHelper.com.

At Akron General Medical Center in Akron, Ohio, (the only hospital I could find that would list their delivery costs online) an unscheduled C-section costs more than $4,100, and a vaginal delivery costs nearly $3,000. This information was from September 2009.

Those numbers don't include the cost of a labor room (another $120 per hour), recovery care ($240 per hour), ultrasound ($576 to $953), drugs, supplies and numerous other fees hospitals charge. Katie and other new mothers can also expect to receive additional charges from the doctor, OB/GYN or midwife for their services and charges for administering anesthesia. Katie’s birth was also induced, which brings more additional costs.

It’s worth noting that every state in the U.S. has a program to provide discounted medical care to women who need it through the Department of Health and Human Services.

Given the scope and high visibility of this tragedy, it’s likely the hospital will charge Medley and his wife a reduced rate or nothing at all. But what about the 6,198 people who were victims of violent crimes last year in Detroit, many of whom have no insurance? 

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