Gunshot Wounds Are Expensive, And We're All Paying For Them

Aug 31, 2017
Originally published on August 31, 2017 8:29 am

It costs American hospitals about $622 million every year to admit patients with gunshot wounds—and it turns out, we’re all paying the bills.

That’s according to a new study in the journal Injury Epidemiology that tapped into a national sample of hospital records to gauge the cost of admitting patients with firearm injuries.

The researchers broke the costs down by injury type, demographics and insurance status.

Among the findings:

  • Injuries from assault rifles were more expensive to treat than from handguns—although patients were more likely to be shot with a handgun.
  • Gunshot wound rates were nine times higher for men than for women.
  • About two-thirds of patients with gunshot wounds had Medicaid, Medicare or no insurance at all.

“We do want there to be better public recognition that this is a cost that is primarily being paid through Medicaid and government sources—and for people who, at this time of this data, didn’t have insurance at all,” says Dr. Corinne Peek-Asa, the lead author on the study.

"As a professional in public health, we can also use this data to help us prioritize prevention programs,” says Peek-Asa.

From the paper’s conclusion:

“Firearms disproportionately impact a young, minority and uninsured population. Hospitals can expect that the largest proportion of treatment for firearm injury admissions will be reimbursed by public sources, and, depending on trends in health insurance coverage, that a fifth of patients will have no insurance. … Efforts to prevent firearm injuries, particularly among assaults and injuries caused by handguns, could reduce this cost burden.”

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