What RSAT programs should be telling soon-to-be released inmates about Medicaid and health insurance.


RSAT programs can assist inmates with health coverage with a few simple steps:


1.   Medicaid eligibility for inmates:

Before inmates are released, program staff can alert inmates that qualify for Medicaid which covers medical care, alcohol and drug treatment, mental health services and preventive care at little or no cost.


First, determine if your state has expanded Medicaid eligibility

This means that single adults without children may be eligible for Medicaid benefits in your state. You can find out if your state is a Medicaid Expansion state by following the link:


Second, if so, contact the state Medicaid agency to obtain enrollment forms

This link takes you to contact information for all state Medicaid agencies:


You should assist inmates to file enrollment forms as soon as they are within 3 months of release. After release, they can enroll at any time. There are no special enrollment periods for Medicaid enrollment. To find out Medicaid’s mandated benefits, visit: Medicaid Benefits



2.   Inmates who need health insurance, but will have an income after release.
Inmates who will be employed upon release, but do not have insurance through their employer, can shop for coverage on state health insurance exchanges. Many will qualify for subsidies that will allow them to afford health insurance. To determine the amount of subsidies each may be eligible for, visit: The subsidy calculator


RSAT programs can help them navigate state insurance exchange websites and locate an affordable plan. The following link will take you to each state’s healthcare marketplace:

NOTE: Although plans available through state health insurance exchanges usually only allow new members to join during set enrollment periods each year, those released from jail or prison do not have to wait. But they must enroll within 60 days of release from custody. 

If inmates have not yet reached their 27th birthday, they are covered under their parents’ plans, even if they are not returning to live with them.

Also, members of federally-recognized Tribes and Alaska Native shareholders can enroll any time of year. Visit the Tribal Health Reform Resource Information Center for more information on the ACA and tribal facilities. 

Helping released inmates avoid Federal fines for failure to enroll:
Failure to obtain insurance coverage may result in a federal fine, due next April with 2014 federal income tax returns. However, sentenced offenders who served jail or prison time during 2013 for a conviction, not just pre-trail detention, can file for an exemption. The exemption form is available at:

Helpful Sites for Healthcare Coverage Information

Kaiser Family Foundation offers specific health data and insurance coverage information on each state at: State Health Facts 

The U.S. Government offers links to local enrollment help in any state and answers to questions about health benefits.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) link takes you to a listing of the Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) in each state. FQHC’s can assist people to enroll in health benefit programs: Health Centers And Look-alike Site Directory

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) lists Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities in each state at: 
SA-Treatment Facility Locator and Mental Health Treatment Facilities in each state: MH Treatment Facility Locator 

Uncovering Coverage Gaps: A Review of Addiction Benefits on ACA Plans

Although the Affordable Care Act requires most individual and small group health plans to cover Essential Health Benefits including behavioral health treatment and medications for substance use disorders, a June 2016 report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse finds that “none of the plans cover the full range of necessary and effective SUD benefits without imposing harmful treatment limitations. For example, not one plan covers every FDA-approved drug to treat opioid addiction. Two-thirds of the plans violate at least one of the ACA’s requirements related to the coverage of addiction treatment. Many plans contain vague descriptions of their SUD benefits, making a comprehensive analysis of compliance and benefit adequacy impossible.” The examination includes a breakdown of what is and is not provided in each state. This information is important so that we know what is actually available to people in need and what we have to do to get our state in compliance with federal law and what is best for justice population with SUDs.