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Health Care In Rural America Experiences Hard Times

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today released a new report, Hard Times in the Heartland: Health Care in Rural America, outlining the health care challenges facing rural communities. The report was developed by HHS staff from across the department and comes on the same day Director of the White House Office of Health Reform Nancy-Ann DeParle, HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield, and Representative Mike Ross will hold a meeting with Americans from rural communities as part of the ongoing series of White House Health Care Stakeholder Discussions.

“Americans in rural communities have seen their premiums skyrocket and are finding it difficult, if not impossible to get the care they need,” Secretary Sebelius said. “Today’s report confirms that we cannot wait to enact comprehensive health reform.”

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Hard Times in the Heartland indicates that nearly 50 million people in rural America face challenges accessing health care. Not only do these Americans face higher rates of poverty, they report more health problems, are more likely to be uninsured, and have less access to a primary health care providers than do Americans living in urban areas. The report notes:

* Nearly one in five of the uninsured -- 8.5 million people -- live in rural areas.

* Rural residents pay on average for 40 percent of their health care costs out of their own pocket, compared with the urban share of one-third.

* In a multi-state survey, one in five insured farmers had medical debt.