As politicians in Washington wring their hands over the Veterans Affairs scandal, VICE News travels to Portland, Oregon, to see what it’s all really about. We meet Curtis Shanley, a former Marine Corps machine-gunner, who has spent the past five years wading through red tape to get medical attention for a crippling injury he suffered while serving his country in Iraq.
Uninsured Americans Are Crowdsourcing Health Care Costs
Hospital Stay: $44,790
ER Doctor: $354
Plastic Surgeon: $18,500
CT Scans: $1,033
David owes in excess of $69,000 and is a freelance editor with no hope for health insurance, because the Editors’ Guild makes it almost impossible for anyone to get in and receive their benefits. Like many in this country, he is completely unaware of the finer details of the Affordable Care Act and is scrambling for a solution to his dire emergency.
In order to raise the money necessary to stave off bankruptcy, David has set up an account onYouCaring.com, which is akin to Kickstarter for things more important than a movie version of Veronica Mars. Unlike many other fundraising websites, YouCaring.com takes no fees from money raised for medical assistance, but they do give people the option to donate to the operation of the site.
With six days left and only $5,245 raised, David and I spoke about the challenges he faces and how they are far from unique.
VICE: YouCaring seems, at first glance, to be a great resource. Have you tried any other health care fundraiser services?
David Price: YouCaring was the first fundraising tool that we tried. All I can really say is that it’s nice to know it’s there. Many of my friends and several people I’ve never met have supported me via the site. It was extremely uplifting for me while I could barely speak to see the support and kind words from so many people. I’m very lucky to have so many friends in my life.
How close are you to your goal?
The YouCaring fundraiser is a great support, though as of now, is only able to account for 6.7 percent of my projected medical bills. Still, it’s a continuing process and there is hope left. I’ll very likely be looking into getting insurance as well. As much as it pains me that there are companies who profit from growing medical costs, it is a monster that can’t be defeated. If I can shatter half my face while on an easy bicycle ride, who knows what could happen next? My leg could be blown away by shrapnel from a falling meteor five minutes from now. There are so many things beyond our control, however unlikely they may seem, they’re events that only take a second to ruin a person financially.