Orlando shooting: Victims face soaring medical costs

3 strategies to improve hospital cost containment, cash flow

Gun violence has a steep cost. In some cases medical bills will continue to pile up for victims who don't have insurance and may need ongoing care for the rest of their lives. 

In the case of the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the deadliest in American history, more than 50 people were transported to area hospitals. The medical costs alone for those who survived the shooting could be millions of dollars, according to an article from Kaiser Health News.

Some, like 34-year-old victim Mario Perez, left the emergency department with thousands of dollars in bills, KHN reported.  Perez, who is uninsured, told KHN that his $20,000 bill covers just his emergency room visit, and not visits with specialists, radiology or other tests. Perez cannot afford the necessary follow-up visits without insurance, according to the article.

The hospital costs for victims of the Pulse shooting alone is probably about $1 million, according to Embry Howell, a senior fellow at the District of Columbia-based think tank the Urban Institute, who analyzed the average medical costs of a gunshot victim in 2010 to come up with the figure. 

However, Howell told the publication, those projections are likely an underestimate. 

And that figure doesn't include the costs for other medical and mental health costs. That amount is likely between $4 million and $7 million, a conservative figure, Ted Miller, a researcher with the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, told the publication. But, he noted, that estimate doesn't include the long-term costs for the most severely injured. 

“They said some time ago that there were six people in ICU who would have longtime, serious consequences,” Miller told KHN. “And my guess is most of those folks will have traumatic brain injuries that will have continuing lifetime care.”

Orlando Regional Medical Center, where 44 of the shooting victims were treated, received a mix of insured and uninsured patients, a hospital spokeswoman told KHN. The hospital expects it won't be able to recoup more than $5 million for unreimbursed costs of care related to the shooting, according to the article.

- read the KHN article