Although a history of incarceration is associated with poor long-term health status, the experience of seeking health care access during reentry is complex. Semistructured open-ended interviews were conducted among individuals with a recent history of incarceration (N = 20). The majority of participants were male (90%) and African American (80%). The majority (55%) had one or more chronic medical conditions, 40% reported active substance addiction, and 75% reported having a chronic psychiatric condition. In qualitative analysis, participants described the three biggest facilitators to accessing health care as eligibility for Medicaid, support through reentry organizations, and online resources. Participants said the major barriers to accessing health care were multiple and competing priorities, limitations of Medicaid, and lack of access to health records. Ensuring individuals with a history of incarceration are connected to the public assistance programs for which they are eligible is an important public health initiative and may facilitate successful reintegration.
“A Catch-22”: A firsthand account of barriers and facilitators to accessing health care during reentry