Transitions in "Privatized" Prison Health Systems: Emergency Department Visits and Hospitalizations Among Incarcerated People in Florida, 2011-2018
Economics, Finance and Quantitative Analysis
To examine rates of emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations among incarcerated people in Florida during a period when health care management in the state's prisons underwent transitions. We used Florida ED visit and hospital discharge data (2011-2018) to depict the trend in ED visit and hospital discharge rates among incarcerated people. We proxied incarcerated people using individuals admitted from and discharged or transferred to a court or law enforcement agency. We fitted a regression with year indicators to examine the significance of yearly changes. Among incarcerated people in Florida, ED visit rates quadrupled, and hospitalization rates doubled, between 2015 and 2018, a period when no similar trends were evident in the nonincarcerated population. Increasing the amount and flexibility of payments to contractors overseeing prison health services may foster higher rates of hospital utilization among incarcerated people and higher costs, without addressing major quality of care problems. Hospitals and government agencies should transparently report on health care utilization and outcomes among incarcerated people to ensure better oversight of services for a highly vulnerable population.
American journal of public health
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)