Objective — Little is known about the health care costs of individuals with chronic psychotic disorders who experience incarceration. This study sought to address this knowledge gap.
Methods — The authors analyzed linked 2007–2010 correctional and administrative health care data on sex- and age-matched individuals with chronic psychotic disorders with and without known incarceration in prison for up to 2 years in the Ontario correctional system. Mean 1-year health care costs (overall and by sex) in the year before incarceration (when release occurred in 2010) were estimated from third-party payer data and compared between the two groups. Costs were calculated in 2018 Canadian dollars.
Results — Individuals who experienced incarceration (N=3,197) had mean 1-year costs of $15,728 in the year before incarceration, whereas those who did not (N=6,393) had 1-year costs of $11,588. This difference was mostly due to costs arising from psychiatric hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and physician services. The main factors associated with the difference were incarceration in the following year (increase of $4,827, p<0.001), being age 18–29 years compared with ages 30–39 or 40–49 (increase of $4,448 and $4,218, respectively, p<0.001), and chronic psychotic disorder duration of 1–2 years compared with ≤1 year duration (increase of $6,812, p=0.004). Women who experienced incarceration had higher costs than incarcerated men ($20,648 vs. $14,763).
Conclusions — Individuals with chronic psychotic disorders who experienced incarceration had higher health care costs than comparable individuals who did not. These higher health care costs may signal the need for interventions and policies that help individuals with psychotic disorders avoid criminal justice system involvement.