Medical bills for US shooting survivors top $2.5B in 1st year after injury, study says

Gunshot survivors face "long-term, often-hidden" costs after firearm injuries, including worse mental health, substance use disorders and higher healthcare spending, according to new research by Harvard Medical School published in Annals of Internal Medicine April 5.

Family members are also at risk of having more mental health problems.

Using Medicare and commercial insurance claims from 2008-18, the study analyzed the medical care received and the cost of healthcare for 6,498 gunshot survivors compared to 32,490 control participants, as well as 12,489 family members of gunshot survivors matched to 62,445 control participants.

Those who survived firearm wounds had a 40 percent increase in pain diagnoses, a 51 percent increase in psychiatric disorders and an 85 percent increase in substance use disorders compared to those who were not shot. Family members saw a 12 percent increase in psychiatric disorders.

In the first year after a firearm injury, gunshot survivors spent on average $2,495 more in healthcare per month than those who did not suffer gunshot wounds. When extended to all gunshot survivors in the U.S., direct healthcare spending amounts to $2.5 billion in the first year. Cost-sharing, including copays and deductibles, is $102 more per person per month for gunshot survivors. 

The largest healthcare spending increases were found during the first month after injury, reaching on average $25,554 per person in spending and $1,112 per person in cost-sharing.

Each year, gun violence kills nearly 40,000 people in the U.S. and costs the nation $280 billion, including medical, criminal justice and quality-of-life expenses.

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