Last night, a Las Vegas gunman killed over 50 people and injured hundreds in the worst mass shooting in modern American history.
The hundreds wounded are being tended to in Clark County’s network of hospitals in Nevada. But because this is a country that has never had guaranteed universal health care, they will soon be besieged by a second tragedy: enormous medical bills.
This morning, Clark County Commission Chair Steve Sisolak, set up a GoFundMe, a private crowdfunding platform, to request charity for those injured in the massacre.
Sisolak, who is running for governor as a Democrat, pitched in $10,000 and explained that he is currently at the county’s level-one trauma center with victims:
I’m Steve Sisolak, Clark County Commission Chair from Las Vegas. We are raising funds to assist the victim’s of the tragic Las Vegas shooting. I am at Clark County’s only level-one trauma center with the victims and their families as we speak.
Funds will be used to provide relief and financial support to the victims and families of the horrific Las Vegas mass shooting?.
Asking strangers for charitable donations to tackle medical bills is ubiquitous in the United States. A report by NerdWallet released in 2015 found that $930 million of the $2 billion raised by GoFundMe since its 2010 launch have been related to medical bills. Yet NerdWallet’s comprehensive survey of crowdfunding sites found that barely 1 in 10 medical campaigns raised the full amount they asked for.
Contrast this American experience with that of some of our allies. In June, dozens of people were injured and eight people were killed when London terrorists ran a van through a crowd and then proceeded to stab multiple people. It was the second major terror attack of the year, the first one being in March in Manchester.
In the United Kingdom, most health care is free. The National Health Service, erected in the ashes of World War II, provides comprehensive health care to all British residents.
At the London attack, NHS staff were on the scene within six minutes, aiding the injured. Last month, the NHS gave a special honor to the first responders, nurses, and doctors who aided the victims of the London terror attack. “They highlighted the resilience and the compassion of the NHS staff who time after time responded to victims, who had suffered unimaginable injuries – putting the needs of those people first. This is the NHS at its best,” Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer of the NHS, said.
In the Manchester attack, American Kurt Cochran was killed. His wife, Melissa Cochran, returned to the U.S. with the need for continuous care. With no American NHS, she had to set up a GoFundMe to finance her treatment. Thankfully, this one both met and exceeded its goal, having raised $83,512.
It’s the price of a free-market approach to health care.