Many 9/11 victims, responders don't know their medical costs are covered

Tens of thousands of people who worked at ground zero following 9/11 are still dealing with long-term physical and mental health effects, many of which have been linked to responders' exposure to toxic dust and ash.   The WorldTradeCenter's collapse created a toxic dust filled with hundreds of carcinogenic substances, including jet fuel, asbestos, lead, mercury and fibrous gas.

The death toll among those sickened by airborne toxins is expected to exceed the number of people killed on 9/11, in as little as five years, experts told The Guardian. Nearly 3,000 people died in the attacks.

Congress established the federal World Trade Center Health Program in 2011 to cover medical expenses for responders, survivors and New York residents effected by or involved in events on 9/11. The program covers asthma, PTSD, mental illness and more than 50 types of cancer and respiratory illnesses, among other diseases, according to PBS.

President Barack Obama signed legislation in May extending the program until 2090. But there are many people who qualify for full medical coverage who haven't signed up, according to Business Insider.

About 90,000 individuals provided assistance in the aftermath of the attacks on the WorldTradeCenter. About 9,500 responders came from outside of the state of New York, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Right now, only about 75,000 people are enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Program.

"There's still a good chunk of folks out there who responded to the event and most likely have not been seen by anybody yet," Michael Crane, MD, medical director of the WTCHP at Mount Sinai in New York City, told Los Angeles Times. These people may have received cancer diagnoses in other states and have not connected it to events from 15 years ago, Dr. Crane said.

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