A study finds rural parts of Iowa and other Midwestern states are becoming more dependent on Medicaid to cover health care needs.
Jon Bailey, rural research director with the Center for Rural Affairs, says the report show Medicaid is the only insurer for many in rural areas.
“It provides health care services and access to health care for a large number of rural people who probably wouldn’t have access to those services otherwise, whose health would suffer because of that,” Bailey says. “From a human perspective, it provides necessary services and access that these populations need.”
It’s not just rural residents. Bailey says rural hospitals have come to depend on Medicaid as well.
“It really does keep a lot of rural hospitals and clinics open,” he says. “Those hospitals and clinics are the backbone of the rural health care infrastructure and depend so much on Medicare and Medicaid payments, they probably couldn’t keep their doors open otherwise.”
The study finds the gap is growing between rural and urban America on Medicaid, with 16% of rural America relying on Medicaid compared to only 13% in urban areas.
“It really does provide a necessary benefit and necessary services to working people, what we sometimes refer to as the working poor,” he says.
The study found 31 out of 33 states with available data had more rural than urban residents eligible for Medicaid.
The Center for Rural Affairs is based in Lyons, Nebraska. Learn more at “www.cfra.org”.