biting the bullet

Biting the bullet for gunshot care costs

While it is impossible to put a price tag on the lives of people killed by guns, the cost for treating victims of gun violence is said to have run more in the billions. In fact, according to a report published this week in the American Journal of Public Health, gun violence cost the American public more. than $6.6 billion between 2006-2014 alone.

The figure is based on a study of hospital bills involving 267,265 patients throughout the entire nation injured by guns during the 8-yearperiod. However, it does not include the initial (exorbitant) fees charged for emergency room treatment. “Nor does it include readmission charges to treat complications or provide follow-up care,” stated Sarabeth A. Spitzer, a medical student at Stanford University who co-authored the study. Meanwhile, she also noted that 41% of above-mentioned charges were footed by US taxpayers, with Medicaid alone accounting for 35% of hospital bills for gunshot victims.

In addition, the study reported that while 33,700 people died of their wounds in 2014, another 81,000 people suffered non-fatal gunshot injuries, including self-inflicted wounds. In fact, Spitzer’s team of researchers noted that 2/3of the latter were committed by suicides (most of which did not survive long enough to receive hospital care).

Statistics also showed that the majority of victims included in the study were male, most of who ended up having been “admitted to large urban teaching hospitals. In turn, 43% of those facilities were located in the Deep South, where the number of uninsured patients is highest in the nation. Meanwhile, approximately 30% of all gunshot victims in the United States were found with any kind of coverage received healthcare under Medicaid.

Should the GOP healthcare reform bill succeed, it would mean that all federal funding for Medicaid would be drastically reduced, placing the added burden on hospitals to absorb most of the cost for covering treatment for those too poor to pay themselves. As a result of these losses in revenue, the only way communities could afford keeping these hospitals up and running would be to pass the expense on to local citizens via tax levies or block grants the public could ill afford.

The very fact that “Firearm-related injuries place a particular burden on government payers and the poor, should arguably, make gun injury prevention a public priority,” Spitzer stated.

Ironically, the same people who want to do away with current gun ownership restrictions (including allowing mentally ill patients to purchase firearms legally) are the ones who are seeking to restrict their access to medical treatment for gun-related violence (both accidental and intentional).

About Diana Duel

Diana Duel is an eclectic writer who has written on everything from woodstove and fireplace cooking to automotive topics and holistic medicine. As an advocate of health and wellbeing, Diana also writes several columns related to these subject.

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