Upping Inmate Co-Pays Will Bring Unintended Consequences, Unforeseen Potential Savings

Menard Correctional Center

State Rep. Emily McAsey, a Democrat from Lockport, thought she had a good idea.

And what does a relatively new legislator do with a new idea…especially if you are a lawyer, as McAsey is?

You have it drafted into a bill.

McAsey’s bill would increase the inmate co-pay for non-emergency medical visits from $2 go $5 a visit.

$336,000 extra money coming in from prisoners is the claim.

Second-term State Rep. Emily McAsey

But wait.

Might not the higher co-pay have a significant affect on utilization?

When a co-pay of $2 was imposed, how much less medical service was rendered?

If significant, did the costs for the outside medical providers decrease proportionately?

$2 represented 20% or a prisoner’s monthly income, one inmate has let me know.

It seems conceivable that more than doubling the co-pay will cut utilization even more.

So, the higher co-pay might lead to the delivery of significantly lower amounts of medical care.

If so, shouldn’t the outside vendor be paid significantly less?


Upping Inmate Co-Pays Will Bring Unintended Consequences, Unforeseen Potential Savings — 3 Comments

  1. What a stupid idea!

    How do prisoners at Menard (and other penitentiaries) earn money for their co-pays?

    Of course, utilization will decline.

    Sicknesses and illnesses will increase for lack of treatment. Guess who pays then?

    An inmate at the McHenry County Jail told me he gets soaked $10 for an aspirin.

    How many McHenry County people know that?

    And, if a relative wants to put $20 in the inmate’s commissary account so that he can buy two aspirins, that relative gets stung $5.95 (or $6.95?) for the EFT.

    That’s how our Sheriff’s Department “takes care” of inmates. Is a Jail really supposed to be a “profit center” for the County?

  2. There is also the argument that people might think twice about going for non urgent issues. There is nothing you can do for a virus except letting it run its course. If you have to pay $5 ( which by the way is less than many non-inmates pay for their co-pay) you may think twice about going for a headache…… just a thought.

    It is driving a behavior.

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