Dead Skier's Fans Donate $300K to Cover Bill

Sarah Burke's case puts spotlight on US system
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2012 6:04 AM CST
Dead Skier's Vast Medical Bills Show US Gaps
Sarah Burke reacts after a race at the Winter X Games at Buttermilk Mountain outside Aspen, Colo., on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Fans of iconic freestyle skier Sarah Burke were shocked by her death in Utah earlier this month—and horrified by the huge bill she racked up during her nine days in a coma. The Canadian star's insurance did not cover the event where she was fatally injured and observers north and south of the border see her bill—initially thought to be $550,000, but now believed to be around $200,000—as an example of the problems with the US health care system, MSNBC reports. But fans and supporters from around the world have picked up the tab, donating more than $300,000 as of yesterday.

In the US, "nobody pays the sticker price, except for those who are squeezed, which is normally the uninsured,” a Canadian health policy analyst tells the Calgary Herald. “Big insurance doesn’t pay retail." If the accident had happened in Canada, "her care would have been covered because, unlike the US, Canada has a system of universal coverage," wrote insurance-exec-turned-whistleblower Wendell Potter at iWatch. (More Sarah Burke stories.)

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