Tulsa's Million Dollar Maureen
Not long ago, New Yorker magazine tried to put a dollar figure on homelessness by tracking homeless individuals in several U.S. cities through the revolving door of:
- Hospital bills
- Substance abuse treatment costs
- Doctors’ fees
- Emergency services
- Other expenses
The magazine concluded that, over 10 years, just one homeless person can cost a community in excess of $1 million dollars. In Tulsa, that number may be even higher.
Take Maureen, for instance, a 46-year-old woman living on public assistance and suffering from various ailments. During one six-month period in 2006, she ran up an $810,416 bill at St. John Medical Center.
This figure does not include emergency transport to the hospital. Nor was St. John reimbursed by any federal, state or local agency for the costs of treating this patient.
So, who pays these costs? The public. The taxpayers. We do.
Maureen’s was an extreme case, but even at a million dollars per person per decade, the problem is clear.