NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Room for Improvement in Rural Health Care

September 11, 2001

People who live in rural stretches of America are not receiving as much preventive care as other Americans, warns an annual report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rural areas are defined as counties without cities -- and most are largely unincorporated areas with fewer than 10,000 population.

Here are some highlights of the report:

  • Rural residents tend to smoke more, lose more teeth as they age and die sooner than their suburban and big-city peers.
  • Long distances and the high rate of poverty among rural residents make it tough to attract and retain medical services.
  • Per 100,000 inhabitants, there were 80 physicians in the most rural areas in 1998, 308.5 in urban areas and 223.5 in suburbs.
  • Again per 100,000, the accident death rate in rural areas from 1996 to 1998 was 54.1, but 31.2 in urban areas and 29.1 in the suburbs.

The adult death rate from all causes was 421.5 per 100,000 in the most rural areas from 1996 to 1998, compared with 419.6 for adults ages 25-64 in urban areas and 319.1 per 100,000 in the suburbs.

Source: Associated Press, "Report Shows Rural America Lags in Health Improvements," Washington Times, September 11, 2001.


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