The South Carolina Corrections Department pays almost twice the national average for health care for sick inmates. Director Jon Ozmint told The Greenville News that he is considering privatization, the Associated Press reports. The system spends $56 million annually on inmate health care, 19 percent of its budget, Ozmint said. The national average is 10 percent. It is almost impossible to say how many inmates seek medical care each year because so many go in and out of hospitals.
About 4,400 inmates have more than 10 years on their sentences, state records show. That is 1,500 more than a decade ago. About 400 people are serving life sentences with no chance for parole. There were 323 inmates older than 60 in 2002, up from 220 in 1993.
Prisons around the nation are scrambling to provide health care for sick inmates, said Judy Greenspan, a California prisoner advocate.