A $2 inmate co-pay, switching to mail-order drugs, and requiring prisoners to buy their own aspirin are among the measures that helped Ohio prisons save $26.2 million, or 15.2 percent, on medical expenses last year, reports the Columbus Dispatch. A report from the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee said the number of inmate patient visits to nurses and doctors dropped by 25 percent last year from 2009. The committee, a legislative agency that monitors and reports on state prisons, said the number of inmates seen per health-care worker dropped to 48 last year from a high of 65 in 2006.
Stuart Hudson, chief of medical services for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, said the savings result from a long process of “looking at every aspect of our health-care system.” The state is self-insured, meaning it pays its own medical bills. The state paid $222.8 million for medical services in 2010, $211.5 million in 2011 and $188.3 million last year. The state has about 1,000 employees who provide medical care for about 50,000 prisoners. In 2012, inmates made 133,923 visits to prison nurses and 115,505 visits to doctors. While the average number of visits by male inmates dropped, visits by females increased.