Inmate Health Care Costs Surge in Counties

An article in The Baltimore Sun reports on the raising costs the Baltimore County jail is facing for inmate health care primarily due to increased addiction, mental health, and chronic diseases. The county council is in the process of finalizing a contract for inmate healthcare that factors in these increased costs.

The County Council is set to vote Tuesday on a contract for a private company, PrimeCare Medical, to manage medical, dental and behavioral health treatment for the jail’s roughly 1,200 inmates.

That contract calls for an expenditure of about $10.5 million annually — up from $6.8 million a year the county has spent over the past decade. The contract was competitively procured and county officials selected PrimeCare’s bid.

At the county council briefing county jail and health officials reported that 50% of their inmates are now in need of mental health care services — up from 25% in the past.

While the article focused on Baltimore County, it noted that other county jails, including Anne Arundel, Harford, and Howard, are also seeing significant increases in their costs for providing inmate health care. These jump in costs have been tied to more inmates in need of more complicated and expensive care. This includes inmates arriving to the jails in need of detox from drug use, additional psychiatrist needed for mental health care, off-site treatments like dialysis, and management of chronic diseases such as heart diseases and HIV.

Read The Baltimore Sun to learn more.