Public Health Costs of Gun Violence Top $2 Billion Annually
It costs more than $2 billion every year in hospital charges to treat victims of firearms-related injuries, according to a study released at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA).
The high figure underlines the need to treat gun violence in the U.S. as a public health issue as well as a law enforcement challenge, according to reporting from The Crime Report.
Others said concern about rising healthcare costs, combined with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, has created an opportunity for transforming the nation’s approach to gun violence. According to the APHA study, one in three patients hospitalized for gun injuries was uninsured. Between 2000 and 2010, 275,939 individuals were victims of gunfire in the U.S., and received 1.7 million days of hospital charges which only included costs after the patient was admitted, the study said.
The average cost of medical treatment for each hospitalization was $75,884.
In addition, The Crime Report notes, a recent report by The Urban Institute, a non-partisan think tank, found that over 80 percent of gun violence costs are paid for by taxpayers through Medicaid or other public-funded programs that subsidize hospital care.
Approximately 31,000 people die each year from gun-related injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The San Francisco-based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the National Physicians Alliance released a set of guidelines and policy recommendations describing the public health approach to reducing gun violence, including training doctors in gun safety issues as part of their professional training, so they can engage in discussions with patients about precautions, such as properly storing firearms away from children.