County approves inmate insurance

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The Routt County Board of Commissioners renewed a catastrophic insurance policy for inmates Tuesday. The cost of the policy has increased by 10 percent from last year.

The Routt County Sheriff's Office has had a catastrophic medical insurance policy for its inmates for the past four years.

Most sheriff's offices carry such insurance policies, Sheriff John Warner said.

Last year, the catastrophic policy cost about $5,900. This year, that price has increased to about $6,500.

That increase is not exorbitant compared with how health insurance policies have increased across the board, Undersheriff Dan Taylor said.

County commissioners did not have many questions for the Sheriff's Office on Monday and agreed that the insurance was important. County commissioners officially renewed the policy Tuesday.

The Sheriff's Office is responsible for health care for inmates while they are in the county jail. If the inmate carries insurance, the Sheriff's Office can bill their insurance, but in many cases, inmates do not have their own insurance.

The Sheriff's Office already has a full-time nurse for other health needs.

The Sheriff's Office has not had to use the catastrophic insurance yet, Taylor told the Routt County Board of Commissioners on Monday.

The plan covers inmates who might face large doctor and hospital bills when they are in the county jail. For example, an inmate could learn that he or she has cancer, a serious heart condition or illness, or that he or she may need a costly surgery.

The amount of money spent each year on the plan could disappear quickly if the county had to pay for such treatments, Warner said.

"There's no question as to whether we need it or not," Warner said.

Warner said that before the Sheriff's Office allows such medical procedures, it looks into whether the inmate has any insurance or is eligible for Medicaid. When possible, the Sheriff's Office will secure those payments before going to the hospital.

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