Medicaid provides more access to health coverage for rural communities

A larger share of children in small towns and rural areas of Virginia rely on Medicaid to protect them from rising health care costs than those in metropolitan areas, according to a new report released today by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families and the Rural Health Research Project of the University of North Carolina.

healthcareThe report, “Medicaid in Small Town America: A Lifeline for Children, Families and Communities,” finds that 44 percent of children in rural areas and small towns in Virginia receive health coverage through Medicaid, compared to 25 percent in Virginia’s urban areas. Virginia ranks No. 2 for states with the largest difference in children covered by Medicaid in small towns and rural areas compared to metro areas.

For adults, 13 percent in non-metro areas are covered by Medicaid compared to 6 percent in metro areas. Virginia is ranked No. 5 for states with the largest difference in adults covered by Medicaid in small towns and rural areas compared to metro areas.

“Medicaid provides critical access to life-saving treatment and protection from rising health care costs to many children and families living in small towns and rural America,” said Joan Alker, Executive Director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. “Cuts to Medicaid and other health care programs would take those protections away from many and risk financial ruin, denial of health care, or both.”

Across the Commonwealth, the rate of uninsured children in small towns and rural areas dropped from 8 percent to 5 percent while the uninsured rate for adults dropped from dropped from 21 percent to 19 percent between 2008/09 and 2014/15.

“When kids and families have health insurance, our entire community is strengthened,” said Ashley Everette, Health Policy Analyst for Voices for Virginia’s Children. “Currently, 95% of children in Virginia have health insurance. Any policy changes that would impact children’s health insurances could triple the number of uninsured children in Virginia by 2019. We must not turn our backs on the progress we’ve made in getting our children the health coverage they need to succeed.”

The report primarily relies on data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). The full report, along with interactive maps showing a county-by-county breakdown on health care coverage data, are available at: ccf.georgetown.edu.

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