As the victims of the mass-shooting in Las Vegas begin a long physical and emotional recovery the financial costs from medical bills are also causing concern for families.
Manitoba woman Jan Lambourne was rushed to hospital after being shot in the stomach and is one of the more than 500 people injured Sunday when Stephen Paddock opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest music festival. At least 58 people were killed, including four Canadians.
WATCH: Canadians injured in Las Vegas share their stories
Her husband Joseph said the last few days have been “totally physically and emotionally draining.”
“She can only take about three steps,” he told Global News from the Valley Hospital Medical Center. “It’s going to be a long road to recovery.”
Lambourne said doctors were able to repair the damage done to her intestines but were not able to retrieve the bullet lodged in her pelvis.
“It’s hard to see your loved one in that much pain, and not be able to move,” he said adding the hospital staff have been ‘tremendous.’ “The nurses and doctors are the best. They treat you like a human being and not like a number. They listen to what you have to say and are always happy and upbeat in spirits which helps out a lot.”
Jody Ansell of Stonewall, Man., Braden Matejka from Lake Country, B.C., 21-year-old Sheldon Mack of Victoria, Steve Arruda of Calgary, Alta., Carrie-Lynn Denis of Leoville, Sask. and Ryan Sarrazin of Camrose, Alta were also among the Canadians injured.
Now the Lambournes, along with many other of those injured, could be faced with expensive medical bills associated with their stay in hospital.
WATCH: Manitoba woman injured in Las Vegas shooting reunites with man who helped save her
Joseph Lambourne said he believes he has some travel insurance through his work and is still attempting to figure out the details.
“We are kind of concerned,” he said. “The outcome I’m still not sure yet. How I’m going to get her home, I’m still not sure yet.”
Travellers urged to get additional insurance
The tragedy in Las Vegas is a grim reminder about the peril of travelling without any kind of insurance.
While some people have additional insurance through their workplace benefit plans or credit cards, Will McAleer, president of the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada, says when tragedy strikes it’s important to have a travel insurance policy which can cost $25 to $50 for a younger person or $100 for a senior.
“Travellers are enjoying their vacations and then something like this happens,” McAleer said. “And whether it’s New York, Edmonton, whether it’s Orlando, or London, it’s becoming all too common an occurrence.”
McAleer said most travel insurance policies cover emergency treatment for injuries sustained from gunshot wounds. When surgeries, rehabilitation, and air transport are taken into account these violent injuries can cost US$300,000 or higher, according to McAleer.
“We are talking about one of the most expensive – if not the most expensive – place to receive medical treatment,” he said referring to the U.S. healthcare system. “The good thing is the care is certainly among the highest of standards.”
McAleer urges travellers to know their policy and what they are covered for and to always store a copy of their medical numbers on their smartphone. He adds that while some provinces provide a level of emergency medical care for travellers the “reimbursement levels are virtually none existent.”
“For a small emergency, you’re looking at somewhere to five to seven per cent of the costs might be picked up,” McAleer said. “Where costs can escalate into the tens of thousands of dollars that is just a fraction.”
The federal government won’t cover medical expenses, but some people injured in a criminal incident may be eligible for a fund that helps victims of foreign crime.
“As of April 1, 2007, financial assistance is available to individual Canadians who are victims of specified serious violent crimes in a foreign jurisdiction for serious situations of undue hardship where no other source of financial assistance is available,” Justice Canada says on its website.
The Victims Fund can help pay for things like medical costs, travel expenses, counselling, or any other out-of-pocket expenses up to $10,000. Nevada also has its own assistance program for victims of violent crime and their families, which Canadians may be able to access, with claims capped at $35,000.
Total costs from Las Vegas could be $600M
The costs of mass-shootings can be staggering.
Ted Miller, a researcher with the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation based in Maryland, is estimating the Las Vegas incident will cost at least $600 million, when accounting for medical care, mental health, loss of earnings, emergency transport, work by police and first-responders, employer costs and lost quality of life for victims and their loved ones.
“There was a huge crowd in attendance there and many of them are going to have PTSD or other mental issues,” Miller told Global News.
Miller says the average cost of per gun death for Las Vegas will be in the neighbourhood of $7.6 million.
Many of the injured who came from different states across the U.S. will also be looking at costly medical bills, said Miller, some who may not be insured at all.
“This is an event that strikes not just those who were there but everybody,” he said. “The fear, the discomfort, the empathy, the sorrow that people all over America and beyond felt are not in my costs.”
A study from John Hopkins School of Medicine published in the journal Health Affairs found the total cost in hospital charges for the more 100,000 people shot every year in the U.S. was$2.8-billion. On average, those treated in emergency departments for gunshot wounds received $5,254 in charges, but if they stayed in hospital overnight, charges rose to $95,887 on average.
In the wake of the shooting, dozens of crowdfunding campaigns have been created to help victims. One campaign started by Clark County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak, a Democrat running for governor, has raised more than $9 million of its $15 million goal.
GoFundMe campaigns have also been launched to help the families of three Canadians killed in the mass shooting, including Jessica Klymchuk, Tara Roe, Jordan McIldoon, and Ryan Sarrazin who was injured. Braden Matejka started a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of $25,000, stating that the money will help cover time off work and other recovery costs after being shot in the back of the head.