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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

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