Date of Conferral
Although women offenders face barriers to successful reentry into their communities, as yet, no research has explored their experiences in accessing health care reentry services. Medicaid enrollment, the process of applying for Medicaid coverage, can be offered as a health care reentry service. Women offenders in jails have shorter sentencing times compared to those in prison, which presents Medicaid enrollment opportunities before release. The Second Chance Act provides the opportunity for reentry services, and the Affordable Care Act provides the opportunity for Medicaid coverage for women offenders. This phenomenological study explored the attitudes of women offenders about Medicaid enrollment and coverage. The conceptual framework for this study was the Andersen's behavioral model. Interviews were conducted with 11 women offenders who were randomly recruited, spoke English, had a minimum of a 6th grade education, and were not on restriction based on jail policy. Data were collected and coded to develop themes for analysis and interpretation. Most participants had an adequate understanding of the purpose of Medicaid coverage and had favorable perceptions of Medicaid enrollment. Barriers to Medicaid enrollment were identified: a lack of language proficiency, denial of coverage, poor health literacy, and a lack of understanding of health information. Facilitators to Medicaid enrollment were identified: providing a translator, being treated with respect as a person to reduce stigma, and assistance with enrollment forms. These findings can contribute to positive social change. Jails have the chance to address these barriers and incorporate the facilitators to make it simpler for women offenders to enroll in Medicaid before released from jail.