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Issue Brief
October 2015

Health Insurance for People Involved in the Justice System: Outreach and Enrollment Strategies

As enrollment assisters seek new populations to enroll in health coverage, people involved in the criminal justice system offer great potential for successful outreach. Working with this population can help both the individual gaining coverage and the community as a whole.

This issue brief (PDF) describes the outreach and enrollment strategies that enrollment assisters can use when working with the justice-involved population. The issue brief shares examples of how enrollment assisters in Kentucky and Virginia are using partnerships and coalitions to inform the justice-involved population about available health coverage options. 

Who is the “justice-involved population?"

The “justice-involved population” refers to people recently or currently incarcerated or under court supervision. This includes individuals who are on parole or probation, serving short terms in county or state jails, and serving longer sentences in state or federal prisons.

Three reasons enrollment efforts should focus on the justice-involved population

The issue brief explains just a few of the reasons why enrollment assisters should consider including this population in their outreach efforts: 

  • Eligibility for coverage: A large number of individuals in the criminal justice system are eligible for Medicaid and marketplace coverage upon release from incarceration. The number of people within the justice population who are eligible for Medicaid is much greater in states that have expanded eligibility for Medicaid, but many people also stand to gain from marketplace coverage with financial assistance.
  • Need for care: The justice-involved population has disproportionately high rates of chronic health conditions, mental illness, and substance abuse disorders.  
  • High uninsured rates: This population has very high uninsured rates, thus limiting their ability to access health care.