Uninsured violence victims costly for Philadelphia hospitals

Nearly 1,000 gunshot victims were treated in Philadelphia's hospitals in 2006. A large percentage of these patients were uninsured. Roughly a third relied on public health services such as Medicaid to get treatment. Such medical assistance programs reimburse hospitals about 85 percent for the cost of care, but hospitals have to absorb that rest of the bill. According to data released by the Delaware Valley Healthcare Council of the Hospital and Health System Association of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia's five Level 1 adult and pediatric trauma centers in the Philadelphia area collectively lose an estimated $8 million annually in caring for victims of violence.

As more of these victims seek treatment at the city's hospitals, it becomes harder for the medical facilities to stay solvent. A number of area hospitals can't keep up with the financial demands of treating patients with inadequate health insurance coverage. Many are losing a lot of money every year to violent crime.

With all this, Philadelphia has inadvertently become a military training hub. Doctors about to serve on medial teams in Iraq and Afghanistan visit Philadelphia's hospitals to learn how to best treat soldiers with violent injuries. Philadelphia doctors treated 786 gunshot wounds in 2004, 883 in 2005 and 987 in 2006.

For more information:
- read the full Philadelphia Inquirer story