Rural Health Policy Project

Medicaid Fills a Crucial Role in Rural America

A number of new resources have been published recently by other research organizations on the key role that Medicaid plays in providing coverage for residents of rural areas.

The Kaiser Family Foundation’s report, “The Role of Medicaid in Rural America,” found that Medicaid helps overcome some of the unique challenges in rural areas including provider shortages, hospital closures, and travel distance to care facilities. Medicaid’s work filling in these coverage gaps in rural America means that in non-expansion states those living in rural areas are twice as likely to be uninsured as compared to their expansion state peers.

While the RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis’s brief on “Changing Rural and Urban Enrollment in State Medicaid Programs” determined that Medicaid enrollment increased at greater rates in metropolitan areas as compared to micropolitan and rural areas from 2013-2016, they did find that rural enrollment rates in expansion states were five times greater than non-expansion states.

Maine Rural Health Research Center outlines the critical role that Medicaid and CHIP play in ensuring health outcomes for rural children with their new report, “The Role of Public versus Private Health Insurance in Ensuring Health Care Access & Affordability for Low-Income Rural Children.” The authors find that Medicaid and CHIP parents view their children’s healthcare costs as more manageable, and suggest that public insurance is more affordable for rural residents who on average have lower incomes than urban dwellers. Additionally, South Carolina Rural Health Research Center’s most recent “Chartbook: Trends in Rural Children’s Health and Access to Care” summary, discovered that while Medicaid coverage for all rural children has grown significantly since the early 2000s, its role is particularly salient for minority children in rural areas, seeing as more than half of them are covered by public insurance.

While each report has a slightly different focus, they all complement and reaffirm the finding that Medicaid occupies a crucial, and growing, place in rural health coverage for both children and adults.

Editor’s Note: On June 7th, Georgetown University CCF and the NC Rural Health Program of UNC will release a report on the importance of Medicaid to rural America with a special focus on children.