Medicaid coverage for the incarcerated population

The incarcerated population faces numerous health challenges (see, e.g., A PHS 795 student draws our attention to a helpful overview of the role of Medicaid in caring for this population. They write:

Because incarcerated populations are so isolated from the general population, they are often overlooked in conversation. Given that incarceration rates are at an all time high and that incarcerated populations are particularly vulnerable to health disparities, I think it is important to understand how states are addressing their health management. Medicaid plays an important role in financing health care for criminal justice system involved individuals, a population with significantly lower socioeconomic status and disproportionately burdened by multiple health problems. Although very dense, this article discusses the guidelines for Medicaid spending on incarcerated individuals following introduction of the Affordable Care Act.

The expansion of coverage for criminal justice involved individuals has many benefits, as discussed in this article. This article brought to my attention the unique opportunity incarceration presents to effectively treat inmates for various health conditions. Treating them during incarceration decreases the chance of transmission of infectious diseases after release, decreases the risk of re-incarceration if mental health improves, decreases hospitalizations and emergency room visits, and lowers health care spending. It will be interesting to see how Medicaid funds are allocated to incarcerated populations and how total spending for this population changes over time if the ACA remains in effect for much longer.



One thought on “Medicaid coverage for the incarcerated population

  1. I really liked that this article addressed health care for inmates after they get released, because it was something I was thinking about while reading. I do, however, wonder how well enrollment into health coverage at the time of release goes. I can imagine a scenario where you have such complete distrust of the system that being “enrolled” into something else just is not something you would want to do – you just want to get out.

    The article also lays out a lot of good ideas and initiatives. I would be curious to know if they have former inmates consulting on these decisions and how feasible they. As many lectures in 795 have pointed out, often the key people being affected by many health policies are not the ones that are “in the room” at the time the decisions and policies are crafted. In a situation when one is looking at the prison system and health care, I imagine there are many nuances that would be hard to consider if someone had not been through inner workings of each institution.


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