More than two thirds of gunshot victims admitted to American hospitals are covered by Medicaid, or don’t have health insurance at all, reported The Trace. And the price of that care is staggering: The average annual cost per admission for a firearm assault injury is $20,989, more than twice that of a typical hospital stay.
These findings anchor one of the most comprehensive studies of the cost of gunshot hospitalization in the United States to date, an examination of 336,785 hospital admissions by public-health researchers at the University of Iowa, published in the July edition of the journal Injury Epidemiology.
The research shows that African-American men are disproportionately represented among gun-injury admissions. It also shows the extent to which hospitals rely on government-backed insurance to pay the costs of caring for shot patients.
In the 10-year period examined by the researchers, uninsured patients and those with Medicaid or Medicare accounted for about 65 percent of the total cost of firearm-related hospital stays. Gunshot wounds resulted in an average annual cost of $622 million — a figure that the researchers say is almost certainly a big undercount, given that the estimated total population of gunshot victims is about three times the pool of patients whose data they were able to obtain.
“It’s important to recognize that this is a public cost,” said Corinne Peek-Asa, the study’s lead author and director of the University of Iowa Injury Prevention Research Center. “Being admitted for a firearm injury is very expensive, and we see so much of that cost is from uninsured or Medicaid sources.
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