New York City Gun Violence Costs Tax Payers $40 Million a Year in Hospital Costs Alone

by Gina Moreno
December 19, 2022
JohnJayREC DataBits 2022-01

More than 70 percent of total treatment costs for gunshot wounds in New York are borne by taxpayers, principally through Medicaid. Between 2010 and 2020, total hospital costs resulting from gunshot injuries in New York City amounted to $469 million in constant dollars (i.e., adjusted for inflation).

Researchers analyzed claims data from New York State’s healthcare billing system known as SPARCS (Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System), a comprehensive reporting system established in 1979. Data from SPARCS include patient characteristics, diagnoses, treatments, and charges for each hospital inpatient stay and outpatient visit. SPARCS captures data from all facilities licensed under Article 28 of the Public Health Law (e.g., hospitals and nursing homes) and freestanding ambulatory surgery centers.

Researchers examined three payment sources: public (Medicaid, Medicare), private (Blue Cross/Blue Shield, private insurance), and unknown (no source listed, none reported, other/miscellaneous). The analysis summarizes inpatient, emergency, and ambulatory claim records from 2010 to 2020 for all gun injury patients with New York City residences admitted to one of 50 reporting facilities across the city’s five boroughs (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island). The results describe costs for gun assaults alone. Accidental gun injuries and those due to suicide attempts are not included.

Inpatient hospital stays for injuries due to firearm assault average eight days, and hospital charges for inpatient stays account for 96 percent of total costs across all claim types (ambulatory, emergency, and inpatient). Public payment sources (Medicaid and Medicare) covered 75 percent of all charges and more than half (58%) of all medical claims from 2010 to 2020. Public payment sources ranged from 65 to 83 percent of total hospital payments across all years.

Medical cost figures after 2020 are not available yet but increases in gun injury costs from 2019 to 2020 and the growth in shootings across the city were very similar (i.e., more than 90%). Recent police data indicate that shootings declined citywide in 2021 and 2022 but remain far higher than in 2019. Hospital costs for gun assault injuries among city residents likely remain between $30 and $40 million annually.


The New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ) provided funding support for this analysis, but all conclusions are those of the authors. Funders and partners of the Research and Evaluation Center are not responsible for any findings presented in Center publications.


More information about data from the Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System (SPARCS).