Emergency room and inpatient procedures related to firearm injuries cost $629 million in 2010 alone, according to a new study by the Urban Institute. Since a large majority of these injuries afflicted poor males from low-income regions, U.S. taxpayers subsidized over half the costs of the treatments through public insurance programs.
Victims of gun violence are almost exclusively men aged 15 years and older, with American males between the ages of 15 and 34 comprising 69 percent of firearm assault injuries. Women constituted just nine percent of gun injuries across all ages.
Researchers found that the average emergency room visit for a gun injury ran $1,126, while an inpatient visit cost $23,497 — $14,000 more than the average cost of all inpatient stays in 2010.
These injuries were also concentrated in low-income regions with high numbers of uninsured Americans and Medicaid beneficiaries. In fact, over half of all the injuries occurred in zip codes in the lowest income quartile, while just seven percent occurred in areas with the highest incomes. That means that many of these hospitalization costs had to be covered by taxpayers through public insurance and assistance to hospitals that serve large numbers of the uninsured:
Earlier research has also found gun violence to be a costly enterprise for the health care system and taxpayers. An extensive Center for American Progress (CAP) report on gun violence found that three types of violent crime involving guns — homicide, robbery, and aggravated assault — cost taxpayers $3.7 billion per year in higher medical costs, lost work productivity from injuries, and spending on police and the courts.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has concluded that nonfatal gun injuries and gun-related deaths ultimately cost the U.S. $5.6 billion in medical spending every year. That number goes up to $64.6 billion when accounting for lost productivity due to the injuries.