Background: The incidence of firearm injury and death in the United States is increasing. Although the health care–related effect of firearm injury is estimated to be high, existing data are largely cross-sectional, do not include data on preinjury and postinjury health care visits and related costs, and use hospital charges rather than actual monetary payments. Objective: To compare actual health care costs (that is, actual monetary payments) and utilizations within the 6 months before and after an incident (index) firearm injury. Design: Before–after study. Setting: Blue Cross Blue Shield plans of Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Montana. Participants: Plan members continuously enrolled for at least 12 months before and after an index firearm injury sustained between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2017. Measurements: Eligible costs, out-of-pocket costs, and firearm injury–related International Classification of Diseases, Ninth or 10th Revision, codes. Results: Total initial (emergency department [ED]) health care costs for persons with index firearm injuries who were discharged from the ED were $8 158 786 ($5686 per member). Total initial (hospital admission) costs for persons with index firearm injuries who required hospitalization were $41 255 916 ($70 644 per member). Compared with the 6 months before the index firearm injury, in the 6 months after, per-member costs increased by 347% (from $3984 to $17 806 per member) for those discharged from the ED and 2138% (from $4118 to $92 151 per member) for those who were hospitalized. The number of claims increased by 187% for patients discharged from the ED and 608% for those who were hospitalized. Limitation: Firearm injury intent was not specified because of misclassification concerns. Conclusion: In the 6 months after a firearm injury, patient-level health care visits and costs increased by 3 to 20 times compared with the 6 months prior. The burden of firearm injury on the health care system is large and quantifiable.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine