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Climate Crisis Caused High Healthcare Costs in 2012

Health + Wellness
Aerial assessment of Hurricane Sandy damage in Connecticut. Dannel Malloy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Extreme weather events supercharged by climate change in 2012 led to nearly 1,000 more deaths, more than 20,000 additional hospitalizations, and cost the U.S. healthcare system $10 billion, a new report finds.


The study, published Tuesday in the journal GeoHealth, looks at the health impacts of 10 climate-related events across 11 states that year, including Superstorm Sandy, Lyme disease outbreaks in Michigan, extreme heat in Wisconsin, and wildfires in Colorado. Two-thirds of the costs from these events were paid for by Medicare and Medicaid.

"There is a real cost in terms of human health," study author Wendy Max told reporters Wednesday. "Our study is the first to put a price tag on these costs, [but] this is just the tip of the iceberg—we know this is an underestimate." (

For a deeper dive:

Earther, NJ Spotlight, Bloomberg Quint, Carbon Brief, Vijay Limaye and Wendy Max analysis

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

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