Go to Jail for Free Health Care? 5 Desperate People Who Tried

As unbelievable as it may sound, people are choosing to go to jail just for the medical coverage. With insurance premiums and other associated costs too lofty for many Americans to afford, some are becoming increasingly aware of the loopholes available to inmates: free health care. It’s a sad yet bizarrely rational decision for people whose biggest crimes are being sick and poor. Here are five such cases:

    1. Suffering from ruptured discs and a tumor, Richard James Verone could not afford the necessary hospital bills, so he chose to rob a bank. The idea was not to get money to pay his medical bills – he only demanded $1 from the bank teller – but to get sent to jail where he could have his care covered. “I’m sort of a logical person and that was my logic,” Verone explained.

    2. Frank J. Morrocco has a rare leukemia, but no finances to cover treatment for the disease. After going to prison in the ’90s on drug charges and learning how the nice the health care was, he schemed to return to jail by blatantly shoplifting $23 worth of useless things. “It was an act of desperation. I went into that store and took things I didn’t need, and I made sure a lot of people saw me,” he said. “At the time I did it, I felt that I didn’t have any other way to get the care that I need for my leukemia.” He later regretted the decision after friends came forward to offer to pay for his health insurance.

    3. Dr. Joshua Mezrich writes about a confidential patient of his who also turned to shoplifting a small item in plain sight. The patient had aneurysms and was in dire need of life-saving surgery but couldn’t cover the costs. When presented to the judge, the patient asked for jail time, being candid about his emergency reason, and the judge granted him 14 months specifically so he could receive care.

    4. Florida officials report that multiple pregnant women have turned to petty crimes so that they can get adequate prenatal care for their unborn children while in jail. Apparently, most of the women owned homes, were employed, and had clean criminal records until the recent recession, and now they have been forced to purposefully break the law to cover expenses.

    5. For some, like Lance Brown, health care isn’t a matter of critical medical procedures: it’s a matter of having basic needs met. Homeless and starving, Brown broke a courthouse window with a brick so that he would be arrested and receive a safe place to sleep and regular meals.

    It’s the sign of a flawed society when people feel compelled to commit crimes just to receive necessary care. Although it makes a mockery of the justice system, there is some poetic justice in knowing that those who are so opposed to the idea of government-funded health care have their tax dollars end up paying for these people’s care anyway.

    But before anyone gets the motivation to try something similar, please be advised that it might not actually be the best option. Unfortunately, that is not to say that health care is becoming more affordable and accessible on the outside world, but that the quality of health care is on the decline in prisons, as well.

    With massive prison overcrowding, officials complain that there is no longer adequate medical attention to go around for all inmates. Moreover, nearly half of all states have recently transitioned from public to private health care systems in their jails. As a result, such companies are already receiving a lot of criticism for increasing profits and cutting costs rather than providing adequate treatment to the patients – problems that plague the U.S.’s health care system on the whole.

    However, some free medical care may still seem preferable to a lack of alternatives for non-convicts. After all, a life sentence is better than the death sentence that awaits those who go untreated on the outside world. That otherwise decent people should even have to ponder committing a crime as a mode of survival is yet further proof that we need comprehensive health care reform.


    Related Stories:

    Man Robs Bank for $1 to Get Health Care in Jail

    1 in 10 U.S. Veterans Has No Health Insurance

    Insurance Costs Skyrocket



    .1 years ago

    I’m heartily grateful to you for this marvelous post. And I will come back soon to get more posts. Health Insurance Miami

    Larry Nowak
    Larry Nowak3 years ago

    Some 80 million people, around 43% of America's working-age adults, didn't go to the doctor or access other medical services last year because of the cost, according to the Commonwealth Fund's Biennial Health Insurance Survey, released Friday. That's up from 75 million people two years ago and 63 million in 2003.

    Ajay Sharma
    Ajay Sharma3 years ago

    foot patches
    Interesting blog. Actually google made searching of information easy on any topic. Well keep it up and post more interesting blogs.

    Sabine I.
    Past Member 3 years ago

    thinking that there are places that don't have free health care is scaring...

    Amanda M.
    Amanda M.3 years ago

    Even with the advantage of being right, you can never beat a man whose job depends upon your being wrong. Any number of good causes have in the end failed because it was the passionate against the desperate. Luckily, England in the approach to World War II did not represent such a situation. Todd Zywicki, having just read Troublesome Young Men, here summarizes the story of the ouster of Chamberlain. I have been meaning to read that book for a long while; perhaps I will have a chance at the shore next week.

    EcRo E.
    ER C3 years ago

    WHO is selling AFFORDABLE health insurance policies?_____ANY COMMENTS, PLEASE.

    I would like to buy medical insurance but cannot afford the premiums. :-( :-( :-( :-( :-(

    Bill K.
    Bill K4 years ago

    we need universal single payer healthcare now. Obamacare was a good transitional program. now let's do it for real.

    Connie T.
    Past Member 4 years ago

    There's certainly evidence that prison inmates in many countries are better treated in many ways than people who pay taxes to keep them there......

    Carla van der Meer

    It is horrifying to think of people going to such lengths to get help which should nave been there for them all along. I'm sure there is a lot of money being spent trying to take away the rights of women, not to mention all the money which was spent on DOMA, if the republicans quit screwing around, think of the good they could have done for people like this.

    Stanley R.
    Stanley R4 years ago

    Welcome to America, Land of the free, home of the brave. The putrid GOP would have us believe the middle class is prospering. The working poor unable to survive are working 2/3 jobs; divorce and suicide has skyrocketed. Violence is growing exponentially, the ultra rich, greedy Banks Corporations, CEO's have squeezed the families into growing hunger, homelessness, Many jobs pay no health benefits, and seniors and students suffer under intolerable debt burdens. Yet the War mongers who spent 3.8 trillion of taxpayers money walk around free as birds. Where is the social justice?? Liberty and freedom like Democracy have flown out the window in America!!!!