There is a tragic story out of Chloride, in the northwestern part of the state, today about two sisters, ages 10 and 13 who were riding an ATV and fell into a mine shaft, over 100 feet deep. After spending the night in the mine one girl was found dead while the other was transported to a Las Vegas hospital where she is recovering from serious injuries from the accident. It is likely that the mineshaft, which was obscured by brush, is about a hundred years old (when prospectors often dug mines and simply abandoned them when they either didn't find what they were looking for or it ran out.) There has never been a comprehensive map or attempt made to fence off (or at least mark) the locations of these hazards-in-waiting. So most probably, nobody can be held legally responsible for this accident.
Not much is known about this situation yet, but it is known that the girls' family live in a small trailer among several others-- in other words, they are not wealthy. I don't know if they are covered by a health insurance plan or not(*- in the comments a commenter indicates that they ARE NOT insured), but even if they are, this tragedy will certainly cost them thousands of dollars. If they are not, then they will likely have to go bankrupt and still be on the hook for enormous hospital costs. Forget any possibility of paying for college-- in falling down that mineshaft, the cost was quite likely the surviving girls' future. In any other developed country (and even most developing nations) her cost of treatment would be covered or at least affordable. But in America, if her parents had any college savings it will go to pay the bills.
Right now, a small business in the town I live in is collecting change, mostly in nickels and dimes to pay the hospital costs of one of their employees. She was involved in a horrible accident last month in which her father was fatally injured and her mother is still hospitalized. The woman who works at the small business herself suffered a broken back, was in the hospital for a couple fo weeks and faces months of rehab. And her health insurance is of the cheap variety (what her employer offers), so they won't pay much of it. The change jar has collected so far about $900 in small change, nickels and dimes. Maybe that will pay for one night of hospitalization. But while recovering herself, burying her father and doing everything she can for her mother, she will get bills arriving likely in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Several years ago, a family here had to sell their farm to pay for the cost of cancer treatment for the patriarch of the family (who died of the disease despite the treatment.)
That's the worst part about medical bills. Not only are they a financial nightmare, but they hit people when they are down.
We need universal coverage that sets a maximum limit on the potential cost, NOW!
UPDATE: A commenter who appears to know about the family personally indicates that (as noted above) they are uninsured, with both parents working-- which they will have to take time off to care for their surviving daughter (Casie Hicks). A neighbor will help pay for the funeral for the other daughter, but today funerals (though still expensive) cost much less hospital bills.