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Boston Marathon bombing victims face expensive medical journey

Donations already are pouring in for victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. But whether those funds will be enough to cover their enormous medical bills has yet to be determined.
By LINDSEY TANNER Modified: April 25, 2013 at 9:42 pm •  Published: April 26, 2013

Health economist Ted Miller noted that treating just one traumatic brain injury can cost millions of dollars, and at least one survivor has that kind of injury. He also pointed out that the medical costs will include treating anxiety and post-traumatic stress — “an issue for a whole lot more people than just people who suffered physical injuries,” he said.

Adding to the tragedy's toll will be lost wages for those unable to work, including two Massachusetts brothers who each lost a leg, Miller said. They had been roofers but may have to find new careers.

Many survivors will also need help with expenses beyond immediate health care, including things like modifying cars or homes to accommodate disabilities.

Many survivors live in Massachusetts, a state that requires residents to have health insurance, “which should cover most of their required treatment,” said Amie Breton, spokeswoman for Massachusetts' consumer affairs office.

Amputees may face the steepest costs, and artificial legs are the costliest. They range from about $7,200 for a basic below-the-knee model to as much as $90,000 for a high-tech computerized full leg, said Dr. Terrence Sheehan, chief medical officer for Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital in Rockville, Md., and medical director of the Amputee Coalition.

Massachusetts is among about 20 states that require health insurers to pay for prosthetic limbs, but many plans don't cover 100 percent, Sheehan said. Some insurers may be willing to make exceptions for the Boston blast survivors.