The family of Caleb Medley has been told that his medical bills could cost up to $2 million if he fully recovers, CBS News reports (h/t ThinkProgress). Medley, who lacks health insurance, is currently in an induced coma after he was shot in the eye during Friday’s Colorado tragedy. His wife, Katie, gave birth to their son in the same hospital Tuesday.
Medley’s story illustrates the dangers of remaining uninsured in America. The Affordable Care Act aims to help the ranks of that class, which has swelled for four straight years and is now approaching 50 million. The law, which the Supreme Court ruled constitutional last month, could extend health care coverage to up to 30 million uninsured Americans like Medley beginning in 2014.
As Medley’s tragic story shows, going without health insurance can have stark consequences. About 26,000 Americans died prematurely in 2010 because they lacked health insurance, according to a recent report from Families USA.
In addition to lacking health insurance, rising costs have made it increasingly difficult for Americans to get access to health care. In 2010, Americans spent $2.6 trillion on medical care, a tenfold increase from 1980. That boost in cost pushed nearly 60 percent of Americans put off or went without health care last year, according to a June report from the Kaiser Family foundation.
Friends of Caleb Medley have set up a website to raise money to help pay for his medical care. The website has raised $70,000 so far, according to the Associated Press. Caleb was pursuing a career in stand-up comedy at the time of the shooting, according to the website set up by his friends.