Gunshot Injuries Cost the United States Almost $7 Billion

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. hospitalization / ˌhɒs pɪ tl əˈzeɪ ʃən / (n) – the process of being admitted to a hospital

    His employer paid for his hospitalization.

  2. out of own pocket / ˈaʊt əvˈ oʊn pɒk ɪt / (idiom) – to pay for something with one’s own money

    I had to pay for the ticket out of my own pocket.

  3. insurance / ɪnˈʃʊər əns / (n) – a system of regular payment that will result in financial compensation

    Part of her salary goes to life insurance.

  4. initial / ɪˈnɪʃ əl / (adj) – first

    Passing the initial interview is very important.

  5. perspective / pərˈspɛk tɪv / (n) – a way of looking at things

    We analyzed the movie from a scientific perspective.


Read the text below.

A study published in the American Journal of Public Health revealed that hospitalizations due to gunshot injuries cost the United States $6.61 billion over nine years.

According to the study, the treatment cost from 2006 to 2014 amounted to $734.1 million per year. This cost was divided between the private sector and the government. Patients paying out of their own pockets accounted for 29.4% of this cost, while private insurance covered 21.4%. Meanwhile, the government paid for 40.8% through Medicare and Medicaid insurance.

The remaining cost was paid by hospitals for patients who do not have insurance and enough money for treatment. These expenses were labelled as hospital losses, which the government eventually paid.

However, the researchers also pointed out that the actual total cost is more than $6.61 billion. Although the researchers gathered data from more than 267,000 patients during the nine-year period, they only took initial hospitalizations into account. The expenses of patients who returned to the hospitals were not considered in the study. In addition, the total cost did not include those who were treated, but not admitted to the hospital.

According to the main author of the study, even if gun violence is a major issue in the United States, there is very little research about it from a public health perspective. Past studies on gunshot injuries focused only on particular states or were done in short time periods. One reason for this inadequacy is a law passed in 1996 that limits government funding for firearms research.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• What are some ways to reduce gunshot injuries?
• Do you think civilians should be fully banned from using guns?

Discussion B

• What are possible disadvantages of letting the government pay for majority of the hospital bills?
• What type of medical conditions should government insurance agencies prioritize?