posted by AHIP
on June 19, 2019
Nearly 97% of America’s land is considered rural. However, only 20% of the total U.S. population — approximately 60 million Americans — live in rural areas. Americans in rural areas face greater health challenges than their contemporaries living in urban and suburban areas.
Rural residents are more likely to die from heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, chronic lower respiratory disease, and stroke than their urban counterparts. Children living in rural areas who have mental, behavioral, and developmental disorders face more community and family-related challenges than children with the same disorders living in urban areas. Residents of rural areas tend to be older and sicker than their urban counterparts.
Exacerbating these health issues, rural residents face greater challenges accessing care. Doctors and other health care providers are often in short supply, rural hospitals are closing, and services available in rural areas of the country are being reduced. These challenges ripple throughout each community, impacting patients, their families, rural businesses,and taxpayers.
Health insurance providers are working hard to improve health care access and quality in rural areas, using a variety of tools to improve the health and well-being of their members, families, and communities.
Health insurance providers stand ready to work with policymakers at the state and federal levels to implement solutions that will increase the availability of rural providers, allow clinicians in rural areas to practice at the top of their licenses, and create environments where virtual care can flourish.
This report examines how health care challenges are magnified in rural communities, provides examples of innovative strategies insurance providers are using to address those challenges, and provides policy recommendations to improve care.