Boston Bombing Survivors Likely To Incur Millions In Medical Costs, But Here’s How Insurers Can Help

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"Boston Bombing Survivors Likely To Incur Millions In Medical Costs, But Here’s How Insurers Can Help"

Thanks to the tireless work of Boston’s medical professionals, the nearly 200 people who were injured in this week’s bombings have all survived. But the health services that saved those lives don’t come without a cost. The medical costs resulting from the Boston Marathon bombings are projected to potentially exceed $9 million.

Prosthetics can cost up to $45,000 for adults and over $100,000 for children, who need to get them replaced several times as they continue to grow. Rehabilitation treatments for those who have lost limbs can run up $200 per hour. And even for those who were less seriously injured, the emergency room care they received in the immediate aftermath of the explosions could easily top $40,000.

It’s not yet clear who will foot those bills. The hospital employees who are currently busy keeping their patients alive aren’t concerned about those details at this point. As a Brigham and Women’s Hospital spokeswoman told NBC News, “We have not even begun to have the discussion. Still caring for patients.” But eventually, when it’s time to figure out how much the survivors owe, insurance companies and hospital administrators could choose to help ease the burden on survivors by following the example laid out by Aurora, CO:

For some advice, Boston may even turn to leaders in Aurora, Colo. where last July a gunman killed 12 and wounded 70 people in a movie theater. Many survivors and their families have struggled with gaps in medical care, said Rich Audsley, special advisor to the 7/20 Recovery Committee, which oversees a fund for Aurora’s victims.

“This is an opportunity for Boston, a very unique moment,” Audsley said. “If you have the right leadership quotient around the table from the community, they can have an honest dialogue: ‘What is it that we can do?’ That’s the place to begin.

“It’s what’s reasonable. For example, hospital administrators and insurance companies (can agree) to forgive some of the medical expenses for who those who don’t have insurance. They can come together to try to minimize the pain and suffering of the people who’ve been impacted,” added Audsley, a long-time United Way official. After the Aurora theater massacre, such talks were held with Denver-area hospitals and insurance providers.

It’s fortunate that Massachusetts has one of the best health care systems in the country — after all, it served as the model for Obamacare — and every adult who lives in the state is required to have health insurance. Lower-income residents whose annual incomes fall below 150 percent of the federal poverty line qualify for Massachusetts’ Medicaid program, which pays the total cost of their health insurance. So at least among state residents, it’s unlikely there will be survivors who completely lack health care, like the uninsured Aurora shooting victim who racked up $2 million in medical bills for his treatment. And the out-of-state marathon runners who traveled to Boston for the marathon should theoretically be covered under the event’s insurance.

Still, insurers and hospitals could do their part to help Boston recover from the aftermath of this week’s tragedy. Three of the five hospitals that treated Aurora victims ended up limiting or eliminating their hospital costs.

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