Canadian victims in Las Vegas shooting face considerable bills

by Leo Almazora06 Oct 2017
After getting caught in the worst mass shooting in recent US history, numerous injured Canadians have to confront the problem of settling their medical bills.

On Oct. 1 in Las Vegas, a lone gunman opened fire at concertgoers attending the Route 91 Harvest music festival from the 31st floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel. According to CBC News, the 10-minute barrage left at least 58 dead — including four Canadians — and almost 500 injured.

Among those wounded was Sheldon Mack, who was celebrating his 21st birthday with two friends. He was rushed to the hospital, where he underwent treatment for a ruptured colon and broken forearm. He’s since had his colon removed; doctors decided to leave the bullet fragments in his arm. They said he had to stay for another week to ensure there’s no infection from the surgery.

Unfortunately, Mack hadn’t bought travel insurance. Citing a recent RBC survey, CBC News said 75% of Canadians going abroad planned to buy additional travel health insurance, but most of those were over 55 years old. According to Will McAleer, president of the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada, those under 30 are least likely to get extra coverage.

“It's typically great coverage down in the States, but probably the most expensive [medical care] that you can get in the world,” McAleer told the news outlet. “You want to make sure you've got your coverage down there.”

According to McAleer, the vast majority of travel health policies will cover the medical expenses related to the Canadians who got caught in the Las Vegas shooting. People could also have extra private coverage from their workplace benefit plans, and possibly even their credit cards.

Aside from that, provincial health plans are available to cover some US treatment. But the amounts covered vary, typically capped at the cost of equivalent care in Canada. The Canadian government can’t pay for medical expenses, although it can provide assistance in the form of a list of local doctors and hospitals. There is also a federal fund for victims of foreign crime.

“We have one program through the federal government Department of Justice, which is the emergency assistance for victims abroad, which can provide up to $10,000 of financial assistance to victims,” said Heidi Illingworth, executive director of the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime.

Illingworth said her office has been trying to ask Las Vegas, which also has an assistance program for victims of violent crime and their families, what it could offer to the large group of casualties.

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