Report Says Gunshot Wounds Drive Up Health Care Costs
A new study says that gunshot wounds and deaths cost Americans at least $12 billion a year in court proceedings, insurance costs and hospitalizations paid for by government health programs.
The study's author, Ted Miller, says that gunfire deaths and injuries incur a direct societal cost of $32 per gun.
Miller found that total costs per injury had at least doubled or come close for medical care, psychiatric care, court cases, insurance and emergency transport, says USA Today. For example, in 1992, medical care for a fatal shooting averaged $14,500. In 2010, that number reached $28,700, says the USA Today report.
According to government statistics analyzed by Miller for the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, costs to the government in 2010 broke down:
- $5.4 billion in tax revenue lost because of lost work
- $4.7 billion in court costs
- $1.4 billion in Medicare and Medicaid costs for firearm injuries and deaths
- $180 million in mental health care costs for gunshot victims
- $224 million in insurance claims processing
- $133 million for responding to shooting injuries
Miller also found that Medicaid covers 28% of hospital admissions for firearm injuries, 37% of hospital days and 42% of medical costs. But in another study, he found that even if people weren't on Medicaid when they were injured, about 8% ultimately enroll in Medicaid after their injuries. "So about half of the medical costs borne by Medicaid may be the best estimate," he said.