Montana is nicknamed “Big Sky Country” because of its vast plains that stretch across the eastern part of the state. However the name Montana is derived from the Latin word "montaanus" meaning mountainous as in the rugged Rocky Mountains of western Montana. It is home to buffalo in the National Bison Range on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Glacier National Park is located in western Montana and parts of Yellowstone National Park are located in the southwest. Montana covers 145,552 square miles, with a 2013 estimated population of 1,015,165 people – 655,613 living in rural Montana (USDA-ERS). Helena, the capital, is located in the western region of the state. The state’s largest cities are Billings, Missoula and Great Falls. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 89.5% of the state’s population is white, 6.5% is American Indian & Alaska Native, and 3.3% is of Hispanic/Latino origin (2013).

Montana Rural Healthcare Facilities

Montana Rural Healthcare Facilities map

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There are 48 hospitals in Montana (Kaiser, 2012). The state has 48 hospitals identified by the Flex Monitoring Team as Critical Access Hospitals (November 2014). There are 53 Rural Health Clinics in Montana (Kaiser, 2012), and 15 Federally Qualified Health Centers provide services at 75 sites in the state (Kaiser, 2011).

Selected Social Determinants of Health for Rural Montana

Most Montanans have some form of health insurance coverage, although 15.0% of its residents lack health insurance (Kaiser, 2013). According to the USDA Economic Research Service, the average per-capita income for Montanans in 2013 was $39,366, although rural per-capita income lagged at $38,757. Estimates from 2013 indicate a poverty rate of 16.7% exists in rural Montana, compared to a 14.9% level in urban areas of the state. The ERS reports, based on 2009-2013 ACS data, that 8.1% of the rural population has not completed high school, compared to 7.4% of urban populations. The unemployment rate in rural Montana is at 6.1%, while in urban Montana it is at 4.8% (USDA-ERS, 2013).

For a national comparison, please see an overview of the United States.

Data Sources
U.S. Census Bureau: State & County QuickFacts; USDA Economic Research Service: State Fact Sheets; Kaiser Family Foundation State Health Facts; Flex Monitoring Team: Critical Access Hospital List


Montana Office of Rural Health
Phone: 406.994.6002
Collects and disseminates information within the state, improves recruitment and retention of health professionals into rural areas, provides technical assistance to attract more federal, state, and foundation funding for rural health, and coordinates rural health interests and activities across the state.
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