Why so many uninsured people in rural areas?

Photo: roadlsstrvld, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Photo: Lori, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

On Tuesday, the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families reported that, overall, the rate of uninsured children in the U.S. has been decreasing since 2008. In other words, more children are getting health insurance. Good news, right? The authors of the study suggested that we can thank Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program for this progress.

Almost as an afterthought, the report points out that rural areas missed out on the progress.

The uninsured rate for children living in urban areas had a statistically significant decline from 8.0 percent to 7.0 percent, making it lower than the national average. Children living in rural areas have a higher uninsured rate (7.8) percent than the national average and saw no improvement in their uninsured rate.

What is it that makes rural residents less likely to have health insurance? One of the reasons is that rural employers often run smaller operations, or the jobs that are available are seasonal – the kind that don’t offer benefits. Also, a common trend is that there’s very little competition among health insurance carriers. Often there’s only one or two, and the rates are high. So people can’t afford to buy plans for their kids.

That last point is one of the major hurdles for the Affordable Care Act. President Obama’s new health care law has so far been successful in intensifying the competition among insurance companies in the big cities, but as The New York Times reported last month, this hasn’t gone so well in small towns.

And that is still the case.

8 Comments on “Why so many uninsured people in rural areas?”

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  1. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Okay, I give up on ObamaCare. Time for universal, single-payer.

  2. Agree with knuckle.

    It’s also the case that doctors are often hard to find in rural regions. So if someone has the choice about whether to get private insurance, the lack of locations to actually use that insurance may have been a cnosideration.

  3. Zeke says:

    Okay. So, where is the money going to come from, Knuck?

  4. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Zeke, half of all health care is already provided by government. The government is already very efficient and thrifty with money spent on health care.

    In the private sector system insurance companies work to make a profit. 1, profit for insurance companies is eliminated. 2, most every health insurance group has a broker fee attached, eliminate broker fees. 3. lots of paper work is generated by applications for insurance coverage, denials of claims, re-submittals etc – eliminated in universal care. Though, of course there will still be some paperwork, but not as much. 4, everyone will be covered so hospitals and doctors will collect a fee for every patient. Nobody has to write off bad debts.

    The remaining costs will be paid through progressive income tax. I know people don’t like the idea of income tax but most of us are already paying for insurance, or we work for someone who provides it for us and that cost limits what companies can pay for labor or cuts into profit and/or is already being written off on their taxes – in effect making everyone pay more taxes already. Some people who currently don’t pay will have to pay in to the system – but the overall positive value to the economy will help everyone from the bottom rung laborer to the Fortune 500 corporation that will no longer need to devote resources to providing health care and can concentrate on business.

    The country will gain a healthier, more productive workforce, a workforce less stressed by worries about their own health or that of their children and parents. Less worried people are happier people who are easier to be around in the workplace.

    Yes, there will be losers. Insurance companies will have to change their business structure. Health care providers will have to adjust to a new system and some people who make very large salaries will have to do with a little bit less. But if you look at other systems such as those in western Europe doctors and corporate heads still make a nice living.

  5. Pete Klein says:

    The best health care plan would be to outlaw health insurance companies and put everyone, including the President, on Medicaid.
    And while you are at it, do away with Medicare and all the hucksters who offer to fill the gaps with a price.

  6. scratchy says:

    knuckleheadedliberal says:
    November 22, 2013 at 5:48 pm
    Okay, I give up on ObamaCare. Time for universal, single-payer.

    Welcome to the cause, Knuck!

  7. Jeff says:

    I don’t favor government sponsored healthcare but expect that it may be inevitable. The bifurcated nature of what we now have- half private and half public will ( or headed that way) will eventually withdraw the ability of private programs to function. As the affordable healthcare program has mandated a specific level of insurance that has prompted insurance companies to change plans and drop insureds. That is the consequence of a speaker of the house and others who never read nor could understand their legislation. It was big picture, not sound reason.

    Progressive taxation? Like Canada’s 17%? They like their system until they can’t get timely service. We will have to tolerate medical rationing. We will have to tolerate people other than ourselves saying our life is no longer worth living. Don’t go back to the hospital within 30 days of hospital stay for your heart attack because Medicaid will not pay. That is regulation, in place now and not due to the affordable care act. So the hospitals have to contrive ways to keep you out of their hospital once you go home.

  8. Walker says:

    “We will have to tolerate people other than ourselves saying our life is no longer worth living.”

    …just like now, only it won’t be a for-profit entity deciding that prolonging your life is bad for their bottom line. And you’ll still have the option of paying through the nose for out-of-system providers, just like now.

    Sounds like you think the current system is boffo. That suggests you’ve been lucky so far.

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