Board of Directors Reaffirms Position Statement on Fee for Services
Lack of access to health care remains among the most significant characteristics of jail, prison and juvenile correctional systems in the United States. Because of their disproportionate poverty and incidence of drug use, inmates have higher morbidity and mortality from treatable serious medical problems. Since charging inmates for health services may impede access to needed care, the National Commission on Correctional Heath Care is opposed to the establishment of a fee-for-service or co-payment program that restricts patient access to care.
Accordingly, NCCHC's position statement on Charging Inmates a Fee for Health Services statement has been reaffirmed. The statement recognizes that some correctional facilities will have fee-for-service programming because of legislative mandates or other nonmedical decisions. However, such programs should be founded on the principle that access to health services will be available to all inmates regardless of their ability to pay. The statement presents 10 guidelines to ensure access to care.
First adopted in 1996, this latest version of the statement does have some changes. A primary point is to emphasize that inmates frequently have low health literacy and may not understand the difference between medically significant and medically insignificant symptoms nor when it is important to seek medical services. Thus, it may be ineffective to expect inmates to determine when to pay for medical services.
About the National Commission on Correctional Health Care
NCCHC is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization working to improve the quality of care in our nation’s jails, prisons, and juvenile detention and confinement facilities. NCCHC establishes standards for health services in correctional facilities, operates a voluntary accreditation program for institutions that meet these standards, produces and disseminates resource publications, conducts educational trainings and conferences, and offers a certification program for correctional health professionals. NCCHC is supported by the major national organizations representing the fields of health, law and corrections. Each of these organizations has named a liaison to the NCCHC board of directors.