Health care costs for prison inmates has increased roughly 37 percent from 2009 to 2016, according to an audit from the Government Accountability Office.
In fiscal year 2009, the Bureau of Prisons obligated $978 million, which increased to $1.34 billion by fiscal year 2016.
While general medical services increased by 37 percent in these eight years, drug abuse treatment program costs increased by 44 percent, psychology services costs increased by 39 percent, and sex offender management program costs increased by 20 percent.
The report also evaluated whether or not an increase in inmate population was contributing to rising costs. They found that per inmate, the cost of health care was increasing. In 2009, the cost of health care per inmate was $6,334 and rose to $8,602 per inmate in 2016, even after adjusting for inflation.
The report notes that health care costs are increasing for inmates because of four factors—inmates usually have poorer health and are an aging population, pharmaceutical prices are rising, and outside medical costs have risen.
“For example, officials stated that inmates come into the system with more acute needs from limited access to health care or they have engaged in risky behaviors, such as substance abuse,” the report says. “Inmates also tend to have higher rates of infectious diseases and chronic conditions that can persist throughout incarceration.”
The auditor says the agency does not have health care data needed to be able to understand or control its costs.
“While [the Bureau of Prison’s] data can show how much the [Bureau of Prison] is spending overall on health care provided inside and outside an institution, the [Bureau of Prison] lacks utilization data, which is data that shows how much it is spending on individual inmate’s health care or how much it is expending on a particular health care service,” the report said.
The audit office recommended the agency implement a cost-effective analysis of its health care utilization data. While the agency did not provide written comments, it agreed with the recommendations.
(via: Free Beacon)