Sky-high national health care costs have ramifications for most every element of our society. Our national prison system, for example, has seen an increase in the cost of health care per inmate rise by an average of 28% from 2001 to 2008, according to thisarticle by The Dallas Morning News. Texas specifically saw a 24% increase in health care spending per inmate between 2007 and 2011. That equates to over $581 million spent on prisoner health care in 2011 alone.
The cost increase has been primarily attributed to the soaring number of incarcerated persons over the age of 55 – a number which increased 94% between 2001 and 2008, according to this Pew report. Given that the burden of paying for inmate health care falls squarely on the shoulders of taxpayers, it would be in everyone’s best interests if these astronomical costs were somehow curbed. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has taken steps to accomplish just that – by increasingly incorporating telemedicine practices into their program.
Between 1994 and 2008, telemedicine saved the Texas Criminal Justice Department $780 million, and will likely save them significantly more as they widen the scope of their telehealth consultations. The same article from The Dallas Morning News reported that, in addition to saving state and taxpayer money, telemedicine also contributed to overall improvement in inmate health: “deaths from AIDS fell 84 percent, blood sugar levels for diabetic inmates dropped 18 percent and blood pressure control improved.”
While it’s no secret that telehealth has undeniable cost-saving benefits when incorporated into the health care of an individual, the greatest impact may yet lie in incorporating telemedicine into nation-wide programs.
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