Review of Rural U.S. Economic and Health Care Trends

Date: September 19, 2022

Review of Rural U.S. Economic and Health Care Trends

This report reviews recent literature and publicly available data to explore important issues at the nexus of health care and local economic vibrancy. The report also explores the economic implications associated with COVID-19, however full impacts will not be known for several years.

Key Takeaways

  • There have been 140 rural hospital closures between January 2010 and July 2022. While some facilities have converted to other health care purposes, the majority have completely shut down.
  • There are additional losses to a community associated with a rural hospital closure including both the loss of hospital spending as well as a reduction in employee spending (due to a loss of employment). Other industries including restaurants, professional services, and other healthcare services are negatively impacted when a rural hospital closes or contracts in size.
  • Rural ambulance services are facing significant challenges including reimbursement, workforce, and funding for operations. The closure of rural hospitals further exacerbates these issues.
  • There continues to be a shortage of health professionals in many rural areas. For some professions, there is an excess supply of providers in urban areas and a shortage in rural places.
  • Those states that opted to expand Medicaid have lower uninsured rates (in both rural and urban areas). Insurance premiums through health insurance markets continue to climb as number of insurance companies decline.

Contact Information:

Alison F. Davis, PhD
Center for Economic Analysis of Rural Health
Phone: 859.257.7260

Additional Resources of Interest: