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The Health Problems Of Rural America

From the StarTribune, citing research from UnitedHealth Group: "Residents of rural areas in Minnesota and across the nation are more likely to have chronic diseases and face hurdles to getting quality care, according to a UnitedHealth Group report that calls for new approaches to rural care."

Compared to urban centers, rural America's problems include:
  • A disproportionate share of people with chronic health conditions.
  • An average travel distance of 60 miles to see a specialist.
  • More patients with diabetes and high blood pressure.
  • More caregivers naming teen pregnancy and drug abuse as top concerns.
Solutions are multi-faceted and include:
  • Expanding the nation's broadband network and handling more illnesses over the internet.
  • Allowing broader roles for NPs and PAs to deal with a shortage of rural doctors.
  • Addressing the reimbursement issues making rural practice less lucrative than urban settings.
Says the study: "About 50 million Americans live in rural areas, as do about a quarter of Minnesotans. The study projects that by 2019, about 5 million more rural residents are expected to start receiving Medicaid or some type of other taxpayer-funded program as part of changes in health care laws."

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