Cost of amputating a leg? At least $20,000. Cost of an artificial leg? More than $50,000 for the most high-tech models. Cost of an amputee's rehab? Often tens of thousands of dollars more.
These are just a fraction of the medical expenses victims of the Boston Marathon bombing will face.
Friends and strangers already are setting up fundraisers and online crowdfunding sites, and a huge Boston city fund has already collected more than $23 million in donations.
No one knows if those donations — plus health insurance, hospital charity funds and other sources — will be enough to cover the bills. Few will even hazard a guess as to what the total medical bill will be for a tragedy that killed three and wounded more than 270. At least 15 people lost limbs, while others suffered head or tissue wounds.
Health insurance does not always cover all costs. In the case of artificial limbs, for example, some insurance companies pay for a basic model but not a computerized one with lifelike joints.
Rose Bissonnette, founder of the New England Amputee Association, said that the moment she heard about the bombings, she knew immediately that her organization's services would be needed. The advocacy group helps amputees navigate things such as insurance coverage for artificial limbs.
Bissonnette shared one group member's struggle to get coverage for artificial arms as an example of the red tape some bombing victims could face. The woman “got a call from the insurance company and the person on the other end said, ‘How long are you going to need the prosthetic hands?'” Bissonnette recalled.
How much will it cost?