The practice of charging jail and prison inmates a copay for non-emergency medical care is growing in Pennsylvania, reports the Bucks County Courier Times. A county inmate must now pay a fee ranging from $3 to $5 to see a nurse or doctor in county correction centers. A corrections official said he hopes the copays lead to fewer “frivolous” medical calls.
Neighboring Montgomery County, Penn., also charges jail inmates a copay of $3 and $5. Pennsylvania state prisons charge a $5 copay for a non-emergency medical service. Copays are also charged in cases where the “injury or illness is self-inflicted” or results from the inmate’s “participation in a sport.” Twenty years ago, the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project filed a lawsuit challenging a county prison system over inmate health copays. A federal appeals court ultimately ruled that prisoners can be charged a fee if they can afford to pay it.