North Carolina Department of Correction news release

August 1, 1997

New Fee Charged To Reduce Bogus Sick Call Claims

Raleigh -- In an effort to reduce the number of bogus sick call claims and reduce costs, state prisoners will begin paying $3 for every sick-call visit to the nurse and $5 for after-hour claims starting August 1.

As the prison population soared over the past decade, health care costs skyrocketed in part due to the number of inmates looking for a way out of work or simply wanting attention, according to Bert Rosefield, manager of the prison health care system.

"Something needs to be done to curb the number of excessive claims and to cut costs," Rosefield said.

Correction Secretary Mack Jarvis said that all inmates will continue to get necessary health care, including indigent inmates.

"These small payments will not only save taxpayer money, but cut down on the number of frivolous claims," Jarvis said. "the Department of Correction is charged by law with providing adequate health care to prison inmates. Our health care professionals need to do that by concentrating on those who are truly in need."

In legitimate cases of emergency or for chronic illness, infectious diseases and follow-up health care services, there will be no charge. Inmates will not be refused health care if they can't pay.

Rosefield said that during the past five years, the Division of Prisons has taken a number of steps to control costs such as scheduling appointments for sick call. That nearly cut in half the number of inmates reporting to sick call and reduced operational costs as well. Plans to begin operating a co-payment system started in 1995 and are being implemented now that a new computerized tacking system is in place.

To further reduce costs and to give the inmates a greater sense of responsibility for their own health care, prison canteens have begun selling Tylenol and other over-the -counter drugs. Consequently, an inmate does not have to report to sick call for minor complaints.

Rosefield expects the number of sick call requests will drop by as much as 20 percent. He said it will also reduce the number of self-declared after-hour emergencies that result in costly hospital visits as well as reducing day-to-day demands on staff.

"Keeping the inmate population healthy is a lot less expensive," Rosefield said. "that's why we have a stake in improving the staff's ability to treat sick prisoners."

Information sheet provided prisoners

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