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Who Pays for the Medical Care of People Who Are Incarcerated?

When someone is incarcerated or sentenced to a certain amount of time in prison, they forfeit quite a few rights and freedoms. But one right they retain is access to health care, including needed health-related medications and procedures. As an inmate, you still have a right to a healthy life, and, though your means of achieving this will change in prison, the jail will ensure that those rights aren’t hampered. One way this may change is that the payment of medical care will no longer fall onto you.

While incarcerated, most things will likely come to an end. You may have to sever your lease, unless a family member will pay the rent for the duration of your incarceration. And you may have to close out any insurance accounts, like car and health care. Regardless of the health care plan you’re on, whether it’s through work, family or Medicaid, it’ll end when you start your jail sentence.

For most correctional facilities, it’s the duty of your jail to provide some sort of health care plan. Though this may come with a co-pay, as any health insurance in America does, you’re still not on the hook for the costs of premiums or any health care plan as you are in jail and aren’t working a regular job. If you’re an inmate in the Dallas county jail, you’re not responsible for the monthly costs that promise you quality health care. And because the jail doctor will likely be your go-to physician for medication and care, you likely won’t have to pay a co-pay. That may come, though, if you have to be seen by a specialist from outside of the jail.

Health insurance innovations such as this allow for a standard of care to be met even while an individual is not capable of paying for health care themselves. Because all the state, county and federal correctional facilities are liable for anything that happens to their inmates, being able to provide quality health care to them is vital.

So, instead of going to a physician’s office and providing proof of insurance as you would in the outside world, you’ll visit the jail doctor to receive any medical care or prescriptions. And if the jail doctor requests that you see a specialist outside of the prison, then you can expect a potential co-pay. However, this isn’t a new practice. Co-pays are common in the American health care system, so you should already be equipped with the knowledge to handle them. And with some prisons offering inmates jobs while incarcerated, this shouldn’t be too much of a burden.

More good news is that if you enroll for Medicaid while in prison or jail, you can receive it almost as soon as your release date from jail. This ensures a seamless transition from jail back to society with few gaps in health care coverage. As an inmate, you won’t have to scramble to find a job or health care coverage to avoid high fees that come along with insurance-free medication costs and adverse health events.

If you or a loved one are an inmate within a correctional facility, consider talking with the facility about the health care the inmate will receive while serving a jail sentence. Make their health needs known to ensure that their needs are a priority and so that the jail doctor will be aware of any issues you or your loved one faces.

Health care is an important part of any person’s life, even for inmates. Without it, one might avoid seeking out care for medical needs and their conditions could worsen. With health care directly made to support inmates, correctional facilities ensure the safety and health of the people for which they’re liable.

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