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Colorado shooting victims: Who will pay medical bills?

Enormous medical bills for those without health insurance may be the next challenge for victims in the Colorado movie theater shooting. Three hospitals won't charge the victims, and there are fund-raising efforts underway.

By Colleen Slevin and Kristen WyattAssociated Press / July 26, 2012

Katie Medley holds her newborn son Hugo Jackson Medley at the University of Colorado hospital in Aurora, Colo, Tuesday, July 24, 2012. Her husband Caleb was wounded in Colorado's theater shooting. Family and friends have set a goal of raising $500,000 to cover his hospital bills.

(AP Photo/University of Colorado Hospital)

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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.

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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 treating victims said Wednesday they will limit or completely wipe out medical bills.

IN PICTURES: Aftermath of Colorado shooting

Some of the victims, however, may 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.

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

The highest uninsured rate was among adults between 18 and 34 and many of those injured in the shootings are in that age group.

State officials said they are not sure whether any of the victims qualify for emergency Medicaid assistance available to needy patients. Victims could also get financial assistance from a state program that helps people hurt during crimes, including lost wages and counseling.

Among the uninsured victims of the movie-theater attack is a 23-year-old aspiring comic, Caleb Medley, who is in critical condition with a head wound and whose wife, Katie, gave birth to their first child, Hugo, on Tuesday.

His family and friends said they have set a goal of raising $500,000 to cover his hospital bills and other expenses and were over halfway there on Wednesday.

"All the money that is donated is going straight to Caleb, Katie and Hugo to help them with medical bills, getting back on their feet, help with the baby items," friend Michael West said. "Anything and everything that they need."

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.

HealthOne, which owns the Medical Center of Aurora and Swedish Medical Center, also says it will limit or eliminate charges based on the individual circumstances of the patients. Those hospitals have treated 22 shooting victims. However, the company cautioned its policy may not apply to all doctors working in its hospitals.

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