Rural America and the Affordable Care Act

On October 1, 2013, many Americans will begin purchasing insurance from health insurance marketplaces. As they begin to research and purchase insurance, millions for the first time, the cost in premiums for their choice of coverage will be a major consideration. Affordability will determine the success of the primary goal of the Affordable Care Act - enrollment in health insurance exchanges to increase insurance coverage and reduce the nation’s uninsured.
 
The new healthcare law provides tax credits and subsidies to make health insurance more affordable for many. A new Center for Rural Affairs report summarizes these provisions, how they will work, and their importance to rural Americans.
 
Rural residents are responsible for nearly 22% more of their total health care costs (premiums and out-of-pocket costs) than are urban or suburban residents. Rural areas also have generally lower incomes. Combined with higher uninsured and underinsured rates, more rural residents are likely to be eligible for cost-sharing assistance and receive more valuable health insurance through the new health insurance marketplaces.
 
Cost-sharing and limiting out-of-pocket medical expenses will be crucial for many rural families. The proportion of rural residents with nearly every chronic disease or condition is higher than in urban centers. And rural residents receive fewer regular medical check-ups and routine diagnostic tests than they medically and statistically should. Cost-sharing will allow many rural Americans to obtain the tests and check-ups they should at lower cost, thus potentially enhancing their long-term health.