Eliminating Gaps in Medicaid Coverage During Reentry After Incarceration

Am J Public Health. 2020 Mar;110(3):317-321. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2019.305400. Epub 2020 Jan 16.


This commentary explores the health and social challenges associated with gaps in Medicaid health insurance coverage for adults and youths exiting the US criminal justice system, and highlights some potential solutions.Because a high proportion of recently incarcerated people come from low-income backgrounds and experience a high burden of disease, the Medicaid program plays an important role in ensuring access to care for this population. However, the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy, or "inmate exclusion," leads to Medicaid being terminated or suspended upon incarceration, often resulting in gaps in Medicaid coverage at release. These coverage gaps interact with individual-level and population-level factors to influence key health and social outcomes associated with recidivism.Ensuring Medicaid coverage upon release is an important, feasible component of structural change to alleviate health inequities and reduce recidivism. High-yield opportunities to ensure continuous coverage exist at the time of Medicaid suspension or termination and during incarceration prior to release.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage*
  • Medicaid / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Prisoners*
  • Recidivism / prevention & control
  • United States