2022 Year In Review: Gun Violence
2022 saw a record number of people under 18 years old killed, but some cities have reported a drop in homicides.LEARN MORE
A new report found New York City taxpayers have paid nearly $40 million to treat gunshot wounds in the city's hospitals.
The cost of gun violence in America can be measured in loss of life and enduring pain, but it can also be measured in dollars.
In New York City, a new study found taxpayers pick up between $30 million to $40 million a year in medical bills for gunshot victims, with a "massive proportion" of the costs covered by Medicare and Medicaid. That's according to Gina Moreno, a senior researcher at John Jay Research and Evaluation Center, who authored the study.
Researchers at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice found that between 2010 and 2020, taxpayers shelled out at least $350 million to care for survivors of gun violence. The report also says taxpayers are paying more than 70% of hospital costs, with inpatient stays for injuries averaging eight days in the study.
Dr. Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay, says the findings show the cost of medical treatment immediately after the injury, but the data doesn’t account for the massive long-term effects — sometimes lasting even for a lifetime.
"Once a person is hit by gun violence and they survive it, they may not be able to work for the rest of their life," Dr. Butts said. "Someone in their family might have to quit work to take care of them. They may lose their housing because they can’t afford it anymore. The emotional dread on the whole family after that happened — so the cost implications just have ripple effects."
Though the John Jay researchers only examined New York City, Moreno says this is not a problem isolated to the Big Apple: It's a a national issue, and other studies have taken a wider look.
"Putting the price tag on this massive cost to individuals, to communities, we are hoping that we’ll get the attention of people who are not so affected by this and that it is their problem as well, and we all shoulder this massive problem of gun violence," Moreno said.
"At least pay attention to the dollars, pay attention to the money that this is costing taxpayers all over the country," Dr. Butts said.
A Harvard Medical School study released last year found about 85,000 people survive being shot in the United States annually. The first month of recovery costs an average of $25,000.
"Before the pandemic, a study estimated that the national cost of just the medical care for gunshot is estimated to be $1 billion, a billion with b, and with the increase in shootings since the pandemic started, it’s probably closer to $1.5 billion right now," Dr. Butts said.
In Phoenix, Arizona, 16-year-old Brian Durham Jr. faces untold future medical bills after being shot while working at a Wendy’s. The teen survived a five-hour surgery but faces a grueling and lengthy rehabilitation.
"So, B-man is a-okay. He's getting better," said Brain Durham Sr. "We want to thank you all for everything you've done for us and everything y'all doing for us."
Some of the costs associated with gun violence in America is also being felt by employers and their health insurance companies.
The Harvard study found the rate of workers or their dependents using coverage for gunshot care grew by more than fourfold between 2007 and 2020.
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