On any given day, over 100,000 individuals are involved in the criminal justice system in Colorado. It is estimated 70% – 90% will be eligible for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
Enrolling justice involved individuals in Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid Program) and private health insurance plans will free up money currently being used by the criminal justice system to pay for treatment and other health related services.
The Affordable Care Act allows more cost flexibility and creativity for the criminal justice system to use on the resources currently being spent on health care.
During 2015, 80% of women incarcerated in Colorado state prisons needed substance use disorder treatment, 74% needed mental health treatment and 72% needed medical care.
In 2015, 74% of men incarcerated in Colorado state prisons were in need of substance use disorder treatment, 33% needed mental health treatment and 31% needed medical care.
Access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment and care has been shown to reduce rates of recidivism.
Prescription drugs, mental health and substance use disorder treatment are some of the Essential Health Benefits that must be covered under health care reform.
In addition to income, eligibility for Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid Program) or a tax subsidy to purchase private health insurance from Connect for Health Colorado will be dependent upon one’s status in the criminal justice system.
Research shows that it is critical to connect individuals to health care and treatment services within the first two weeks post-release as it is a vulnerable time for justice involved individuals. Homelessness, high stress, and an increased risk of overdose are prevalent during this timeframe. Access to health and behavioral health care services can help.
Prisons and jails will achieve cost-savings by reducing the amount of resources spent on overnight medical care thanks to health care reform.
Disruption in health care services and treatment upon returning to the community has been shown to increase recidivism rates for justice involved individuals and lead to worse health and safety outcomes. Health care reform can help break the cycle of reoffending and being re-incarcerated.
Providing justice involved individuals with health care coverage and connecting them with community health care providers will reduce the use of emergency rooms and other costly means of accessing health care services.
Dental care is extremely important in helping one recover and be successful in the community. Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid Program) offers dental benefits!
Health care reform offers an unprecedented opportunity for low-income, single adults who have historically not had the ability to have access to health insurance.