60 million Americans—about 20% of the U.S. population—live in rural areas.
Nearly 150 rural hospitals in the US have closed since 2010.
The federal government projects a shortage of over 20,000 primary care physicians in rural areas by 2025.
Rural Americans are more likely to die prematurely from heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and stroke than their urban counterparts
WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?
Low Insurance Reimbursements and Medical Debt
Rural hospitals serve less populated areas and don't see enough patients to cover costs of care. The bulk of rural hospital revenue comes from Medicare and Medicaid, which reimburse less than the actual medical costs, causing the hospital to take on debt in underpaid, or unpaid, bills.
Recruiting Healthcare Professionals to Rural Areas
Recruitment and retention of health professionals in rural areas has long been a persistent challenge. Only 10% of physicians in the United States practice in rural areas despite rural populations accounting for 20% of the population.
Limited Access to Mental and Behavioral Healthcare
The shortage of behavioral health and substance abuse professionals in rural populations is immense. Recent research finds that 65% of rural counties do not have a psychiatrist; 47% do not have a psychologist; and 81% do not have a psychiatric nurse practitioner.
Isolated Communities Result in Unhealthier Lifestyles
Many rural communities are geographically isolated and don't have access to grocery stores and healthier food options. Convenience stores may be the only food option, which often carry more processed foods that are high in salt, sugar and fat.
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