The only thing worse than getting shot during a mass shooting? Getting shot during a mass shooting … only to face six-figure hospital bills.
In the aftermath of last Wednesday's mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine, which left 18 dead and 13 injured, Redditor u/Albstein found themselves pondering the logistics of surviving a massacre.
Robert Card, a petroleum specialist in the U.S. Army Reserve, is at large and the suspect in the mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine. Here's what to know. https://t.co/xuO9aQNXBY— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 27, 2023
“There is another mass shooting going on and I wonder: If I do not have insurance and need medical treatment like an emergency surgery and physical and psychological therapy and long time care [sic], who is gonna pay?” they wrote in a post shared to r/NoStupidQuestions noting the difficulty of suing the shooter. “Am I stuck not just with the effects of the trauma but the costs also?”
As u/Albstein quickly learned, the answer to their inquiry was a resounding pretty much.
“If you can't sue the shooter, yes, you are stuck with the bill,” wrote u/Sunny_Hill_1.
“At least at first, you do,” added u/HughLouisDewey “Depending on the circumstances (if, for instance, you were the lone victim or there were very few victims), the court may be able to order restitution for those medical bills as part of the shooter's sentence upon conviction (but that wouldn't happen until conviction, which may take a year or more, and would be unavailable if the Defendant were to be acquitted),” they continued.
Though u/HughLouisDewey noted that several states have “some form of victim compensation fund that may be able to provide some assistance in paying medical costs,” those usually carry a whole lot of caveats.
“Those often have strict deadlines to apply and strict eligibility requirements, plus the hassle of dealing with government bureaucrats,” they added, a point that several other commenters reiterated.
“I think it depends on how high profile of the tragedy,” wrote u/Practical-Menu2004. “Shot in your house during an armed robbery that makes the local news for one night? You’re probably paying. Shot in a mass shooting that is in the 24/7 national news cycle for days? You likely will never see a bill.”
This tricky assessment isn’t entirely wrong. Back in May, ABC News chatted with Ashtin Gamblin, who found herself facing a $300,000 hospital bill her private insurance refused to cover after being shot nine times at a Colorado Springs nightclub last November.
"I just got shot and I'm concerned about how I'm going to pay for the ambulance ride,” she told ABC News of the moments after the shooting, which killed five and injured 25.
Months later, things weren’t much better. "In a perfect world, I wouldn't be concerned about paying for this,” she recalled, noting that her various post-shooting treatments had already racked up to roughly $1 million.
Though this may seem unfair, several chalked situations like these up to be a new part of the American experience. As u/Insecure-confidence so aptly put it, “This here's America. That shooter has a constitutional right to bear arms. Your safety is nothing more than an inconvenience. How dare you.”