Unclaimed bodies pile up as opioid overdose death rates soar and burial costs overwhelm the government

Wednesday, February 28, 2018
By Paul Martin

In 15 states, the government sets aside money to cover the cost of cremating and burying the deceased who left no assets behind
Other states push the financial burden down to the local level
A 2004 report estimated that there are 40,000 unclaimed bodies stored in morgues across the US, and experts say that number has risen in recent years
More than 115 people die from opioid overdoses each day
The most affected populations are those in lower income groups who are less likely to leave money behind to cover burial costs
Hundreds of unclaimed remains are stored in the basement of a funeral home in Worcester, Massachusetts, some dating back to the 1800s

By MEGAN SHEETS
DAILYMAIL.COM
28 February 2018

Unclaimed bodies are piling up across the US as state and local governments struggle to keep up with payments to the funeral homes that spend thousands to bury them.

A 2004 report estimated that there are 40,000 unclaimed bodies stored in morgues across the US, and experts say that number has risen dramatically in recent years in part due to the opioid crisis.

More than 115 people die from opioid overdoses each day, and the most affected populations are those in lower income groups who are less likely to leave money behind to cover burial costs.

Funeral homes across the US have been overwhelmed by the number of bodies that need to be taken care of as they shoulder the cost and wait for government reimbursement.

‘These are human beings, someone’s mother, father, sister, brother,’ Peter Stefan, a funeral director who buries dozens of unclaimed bodies a year in central Massachusetts, said.

‘What do you do with these people? If I leave this place this way, the poor won’t have too many options.’

In 15 states, the government sets aside money each year to cover the cost of cremating and burying the deceased who left no assets behind. Other states push the financial burden down to the local level.

The number of bodies that require government funding has grown as the opioid epidemic – which claimed the lives of more than 64,000 last year – worsens.

Opiates are now the leading cause of death for adults under 50.

In West Virginia, drug overdose victims have used up nearly all the state government money budgeted for the unclaimed dead.

West Virginia has the highest rate of opioid deaths in the country, accounting for 52 per 100,000.

The state saw a 25 percent increase in opioid-related deaths from 2015 to 2016.

According to executive director of the state funeral directors association Robert Kimes, homes that bury the indigent and unclaimed from March on will have to try to recoup money from the state later, but there’s no guarantee that they will be paid back.

The Rest…HERE

Comments are closed.

Join the revolution in 2018. Revolution Radio is 100% volunteer ran. Any contributions are greatly appreciated. God bless!

Follow us on Twitter