Prisons need to look at prevention of disease as population ages

prisonMaria Schiff, in a piece that appears at Health Affairs blog, notes that an aging prison population – state and federal prisoners more than 55 years old – has grown from 43,300 to 144,500 from 1999-2013. With that rising number comes with a corresponding increase in health care costs. In Examining State Prison Health Care Spending: Cost Drivers And Policy Approaches,  Schiff reports that the National Institute of Corrections said the cost of keeping prisoners 55 and older costs two to three times as much for all other inmates. Not among the cost containment strategies is prevention, which should be looked at along with other methods.

Treating Prisoners With Hepatitis C May Be Worth The Hefty Price, a Health News piece at NPR, says “more than 15 percent of U.S. prison inmates are infected with Hepatitis C. The study, published Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine, shows that as many as 12,000 lives would be saved if inmates were screened and treated. And while it would cost a lot of money up front, over time the savings to society at large would be huge. . . . Treating just those in prison would save $750 million over 30 years, the study finds, even including the cost of screening and medication.”

Legionnaires’ disease case at San Quentin prison prompts shutoff of water, which appears at the Los Angeles Times, says “California public health records show 348 reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease in 2014, two-thirds of them affecting individuals 65 or older. More than half of the cases occurred in Los Angeles County. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that fewer than half the cases of legionellosis, the proper medical term for the disease, are reported. From 2009 to 2012, California reported 82 deaths attributed to the bacteria, according to the state Department of Public Health.”

Also, An epidemic of pneumococcal disease in an overcrowded, inadequately ventilated jail.