Healthcare Costs Loom for Roseburg Shooting Victims

Samuel Metz, MD

Samuel Metz, MD

The Lund Report October 27, 2015
Guest Opinion by Sam Metz

Everyone who needs healthcare should be able to receive it, regardless of their financial condition

OPINION -- The tragedy of the Roseburg shootings did not end when Christopher Harper-Mercer shot himself after killing nine people at Umpqua Community College. The injured survivors now find themselves unable to pay for the medical care their injuries require.

Much of that medical care is complex: multiple operations, intensive care, long hospital stays, and rehabilitation. Four survivors set up internet donation sites because their families were unable to pay for care. One survivor, newly released from the hospital, received nearly $800,000 from people around the country, which may be sufficient to pay his current and future medical bills. Three other survivors remain hospitalized, one in critical condition. Their families are not as fortunate. As of last week, their combined internet appeals collected less than $20,000, not quite enough for one person to stay five days in an ICU.

What happens to these families if the charity of strangers fails to pay for their care?

How this tragedy should inform firearms legislation remains an incendiary topic. But we should not let the smoke of that issue cloud our vision of the second and ongoing tragedy for the community of Roseburg. Our health care system does not provide health care, even that required by unpredictable acts of psychosis, without devastating families with hospital bills they can never pay in several lifetimes.