Public-Private Partnerships in Correctional Health Care

PPPs offer better cost control, improved performance, increased accountability and reduced taxpayer risk

Over the past several decades, state prison populations have skyrocketed, and so too have corrections expenditures. In an attempt to control costs while maintaining high levels of service, a number of states have begun to form public-private partnerships (PPPs) in correctional health care by contracting out some or all of their prison health services. This paper gives a brief overview of what the current state correctional health care market looks like, and explores the various options states have pursued to provide their inmates with health care while incarcerated.

Over the past several decades, state prison populations have skyrocketed, and so too have corrections expenditures. According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, states spent a combined $32.2 billion (in 2011 dollars) on corrections expenditures in 1992; in 2011, states spent a combined $47 billion.

One of the driving factors behind these growing corrections budgets is the dramatic rise in correctional health care expenditures. According to a 2012 Bureau of Justice Statistics report, 42 of the 44 states it surveyed saw an increase in correctional medical expenditures between 2001 and 2008, with expenditures increasing by 50 percent or more in 21 states over that period.

Currently, health care spending accounts for an average of 10 to 20 percent of state corrections budgets. In 2011, states spent a combined $7.7 billion on correctional health care, accounting for roughly 16 percent of all corrections expenditures that year, according to a 2014 report published by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

In an attempt to control costs while maintaining high levels of service, a number of states have begun to form public-private partnerships (PPPs) in correctional health care by contracting out some or all of their prison health services—including medical, mental health and dental services—to private companies.

This paper gives a brief overview of what the current state correctional health care market looks like, and explores the various options states have pursued to provide their inmates with health care while incarcerated.

Lauren Galik is Director of Criminal Justice Reform

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform

This Study's Materials






;