The urban-rural health care divide is growing
All the bad parts of the health care system — poor health, high costs, inadequate access — are worse in rural areas.
The big picture: "This rural disadvantage is unprecedented," said James Kirby, a federal health researcher.
- Mortality rates are higher in rural areas, and many of those disparities are getting bigger.
- Women in rural areas are more likely to die from pregnancy-related deaths than urban women. Two-thirds of these deaths are preventable.
Between the lines: Operating a health care practice, especially a hospital, in a rural area is a tough proposition: There aren't many patients, and a large proportion of them are covered by Medicare or Medicaid.
- More than 100 rural hospitals have closed since 2010, and those still up and running have slashed some services for patients in order to survive, according to one study.
- It can also be hard to recruit doctors to work in rural areas.