A recent study found that the state of Wyoming was third in spending on medical care amongst the American States, surpassed only by Vermont and California. The report is based on 2011 statistics, the most recent year that national data is available. In that year Wyoming spent nearly twenty-one million dollars in total on medical care for inmates. That amounted to almost eleven thousand dollars per inmate.
With the national average of spending per inmate amounting to around six thousand dollars, some wonder if there is not some inefficiency or waste at play, the study’s writers were quick to point out that the findings were not necessarily evidence of either. They went on to point out that many factors influence the cost of caring for inmates such as status of health, age, and availability of providers.
Several things seem to contribute to the higher cost in Wyoming. Data from 2010 suggests that many states’ budgets have been strained in the last few years. Add to this that Wyoming’s prisons are all rurally located, making it difficult to acquire competitive pricing on services.
There is favorable news for Wyoming, however. The cost per inmate saw a drop from 2007 to 2011 of seven percent due to a larger influx of inmates and better contracts with providers. They are also looking into telecommunications services dubber “telehealth” that would allow the submission of information through internet or phone to providers that may help avoid costly, unnecessary and possibly dangerous visits away from inmates home facilities.