In sickness and in prison: The case for removing the Medicare exclusion for Australian prisoners
Journal of Law Medicine
School of Arts and Humanities
Many current and former prisoners experience significantly higher rates of physical and mental health problems than others in the community, and are among the most marginalised and disadvantaged people in society. This article argues that granting prison health services an exemption under s 19(2) of the Health Insurance Act 1973 Cth would make the Medicare Benefits Schedule and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme-funded services available to prisoners who meet the eligibility criteria. Australian prisoners would then receive a level of care at least equivalent to that offered by community health services. Reducing health inequities that prisoners experience, particularly Indigenous prisoners, is essential for them continuing to receive health care following release and successfully reintegrating into the community. Further, granting the exemption would assist the Australian Government to meet its international human rights obligations to provide equitable health care for all Australians.