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Rural Health Disparities

Health disparities, most often associated with urban ethnic and racial populations, persist in rural America as well. Geographic isolation, socio-economic status, health risk behaviors, and limited job opportunities contribute to health disparities in rural communities. While 20% of the United States population lives in rural areas higher rates of chronic illness and poor overall health are found in those communities when compared to urban populations.

Rural residents are older, poorer, and have fewer physicians to care for them. This inequality is intensified as rural residents are less likely to have employer-provided health care coverage; and if they are poor, often not covered by Medicaid. Federal and state agencies, and membership organizations are working to diminish these disparities and keep rural America healthy and strong. Some provide funding, information, and technical assistance to be used at the state, regional and local level and others inform state and federal legislators to help them recognize the issues affecting health care in rural America.

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Last Reviewed: 6/30/2013

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Funding for this project was supported by Grant Number U56RH05539 from the Office of Rural Health Policy, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The contents of this website are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the funder.