Access to health care has been one of the most compelling social, economic, and political issues in the United States. This report examines data on health insurance coverage in Montana to see if coverage varies between rural and urban areas of the state.
- Montana’s rural counties have lower health insurance coverage rates than more urban counties for residents under 65; as county population decreases uninsured rates increase.
- Rural Montana faces structural barriers and economic differences from urban Montana that result in lower health insurance coverage rates. The consequences are weaker rural communities and a less healthy rural Montana.
- Montana has two primary policy choices and mechanisms to reduce the number of rural residents without health insurance – health insurance exchanges that meet the unique needs of rural residents and the new Medicaid initiative for working adults, both in the Affordable Care Act.
- Expanding Medicaid as allowed in the Affordable Care Act would reduce the rural uninsured rates by a third.
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