The Affordable Care Act and you: Part 10

By WEEK Producer

November 11, 2013 Updated Nov 11, 2013 at 11:20 AM CDT

This week's report on the Affordable Care Act in Illinois focuses on a forgotten sector of the population…jail inmates.

This is not something that is mandated by law but McLean County Sheriff Mike Emery said making sure his inmates are covered when they get out is "just the right thing to do."

While inmates cannot complete the process of getting health insurance while incarcerated, the sheriff and his staff are attempting to at least give the inmates a head start by having them begin the application process so when they finish their time, they will save time getting enrolled in coverage.

"So that when they leave, they have services to mental health, they have substance abuse, they have medical care because after if they're getting medical care in jail, they're still going to need it when they get out,” Emery said.

Brenda McDowell of Chestnut Health Systems of Bloomington is counseling the sheriff's department and other McLean County agencies on the ACA.

"We're working with the health department, housing...just helping people who don't have insurance,” McDowell said. “We see a lot of people who don't have insurance, so this is a way of helping them get insurance."

This pre-application process does not cost the taxpayers.

Jackie Mathias of inmate services said the more help they give prisoners now, the less likely they will be to commit another crime when they get out.