A new study estimates that gun violence costs the American healthcare system about $734.6 million per year, but when researchers added long-term healthcare and emergency services the sum skyrocketed to $3.1 billion per year.
Americans Spent $6.6Bn on Gun Violence-Associated Care between 2006 and 2014
Researchers estimate that gunshot wounds cost Americans $6.6 billion from 2006 to 2014, but the bill does not include mental healthcare costs, long-term medical costs, and emergency services. It also doesn’t take into consideration gunshot fatalities and hospital readmissions.
Experts estimate the costs to further climb as gun violence is on the rise in the U.S.
The research was carried out by the Stanford School of Medicine in California. For their study, researchers sifted through data on 276,000 gun violence victims who were admitted in a hospital within a nine-year period.
Study authors took into account hospitalization costs for patients that had self-inflicted gunshot wounds, patients who were accidentally shot, and those who were assaulted. Scientists looked at the severity of the wounds, hospitalization costs, and the methods of payment for care.
Lead author Sarabeth Spitzer noted that the associated costs are extremely high especially because they can be easily prevented. Spitzer’s team were interested in the total medical costs for gunshot patients during the first hospital admission and in whom ultimately had to foot the bill.
The research revealed that the U.S. government paid around 40% of the total costs since many victims were enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare programs. Other victims had a private health insurance or paid out of pocket.
Victims Were Predominantly Young and Poor Males
The analysis also showed that gun violence victims were overwhelmingly male. Also, young and poor patients were usually enrolled in Medicaid, and most victims of assault came from this group. On the other hand, Medicare recipients were more likely to land in a hospital with a self-inflicted gunshot injuries.
The study revealed that costs don’t end when patients leave a healthcare facility. There are costs linked to readmission, long-term healthcare, or long-term rehab. Spitzer promised to take into account the cost of readmissions in a follow-up study.
The study is the first to analyze the costs of gun violence from a public health perspective. This is because in the mid-1990s, Congress restricted funding for gun violence research.
A 2012 study revealed that gun violence costs every American $700 per year, which is more than obesity-related costs. Over the last decade, 750,00 Americans were shot, of whom over 320,000 were killed.
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