Study reveals extreme heat costs healthcare system $1 billion each summer

WASHINGTON D.C. — From the Midwest to the Northeast, tens of millions of people are bracing for extreme heat this weekend.

A recent nationwide study reveals the extreme heat isn’t just uncomfortable, it generates about $1 billion in health care costs every summer. Researchers say that’s because more people are going to the hospital for heat-related illnesses.

“These things really strain our already short, staffed hospital systems and healthcare providers. Marquisha Johns, associate director for public health policy at the Center for American Progress.

This report is a collaboration between the Center for American Progress and Virginia Commonwealth University. The group reviewed climate data and insurance claims in Virginia over the course of five summers.

When they scale up these results nationally, it shows hot summer days lead to nearly 235,000 emergency room visits and 56,000 hospital admissions.

Part of the report has recommendations for state and federal officials to transition from fossil fuel to clean renewable energy in order to lower the temperatures.

“One of the biggest things we also need to do besides taking care of people today is also taking reducing our emissions so we’re not increasing the temperatures even more for the future,” she said.

Johns said these changes are necessary, especially for minority neighborhoods that are more vulnerable to severe weather.

“We think about Black and brown communities, they tend to have more concrete and less trees, less green spaces, things like that all of these things that actually ended up cooling down communities, and neighborhoods,” said Johns.

She also suggests making homes more resilient.

“Thinking about cool roofs for homes, reflective paint on roads, anything that we could do to reduce the amount of heat that our cities and states are feeling,” said Johns.

There are also solutions for you at home. This includes learning the warning signs of heat-related illnesses and how to access local cooling centers.

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