The total medical costs resulting from last week’s Boston Marathon attack are expected to top $9 million — and that could be a conservative estimate, since the bombings’ injury toll has just been revised up to nearly 300 people. Fortunately, however, the city’s largest health providers are stepping up to ensure that the victims won’t suffer under the full weight of those mounting costs.
The Boston Globe reports that the largest health insurers in Massachusetts are planning to eliminate out-of-pocket fees for the bombing victims who are receiving treatment for their injuries, and three of the city’s hospitals are promising to delay billing those patients. Fortunately, health care providers plan to address ongoing treatment for long-term health issues as well as the initial emergency room care that victims received in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. Tufts Health Plan — a Boston-based insurer whose corporate offices are actually located just blocks away from where the manhunt to capture the bombing suspects first began with a shoot-out on Friday morning — has announced that, in addition to waiving costs for physical treatment, it will also cover the cost of mental health care.
“The physical injuries are easier to determine, but the mental health component is important,” a Tufts spokeswoman told the Boston Globe. “Six months down the road, someone may have a hard time dealing with these issues.” The insurance company has already contacted over a thousand mental health providers to make sure they will be available to take on the extra caseload that may arise as bombing survivors cope with potential post-traumatic stress disorder.
Although other insurers, like Blue Cross and Harvard Pilgrim, have not committed to completely cover all physical and mental health costs, they will review patients’ cases individually to make sure that none of them are struggling to afford their care. And some hospitals have decided to continue billing insurance companies, but refrain from sending bills to patients. “The focus is clearly on getting well and getting the treatment they need, and this is a small act of kindness,” a Harvard Pilgrim spokeswoman explained.
Fortunately, thanks to Massachusetts’ health care system, most of the state residents already have health insurance. But the cost of treating serious injuries, particularly amputations, can still be exorbitant. Some of the bombing victims have already resorted to online fundraising to help raise the anticipated costs for their recovery.