Rural Health in America: How Shifting Populations Leave People Behind
Published on: October 02, 2019. Updated on: October 20, 2020.
About the Data Insights
This rural health infographic depicts how increasing urbanization leaves behind an older, sicker and poorer population in rural America, with corresponding health care challenges. It also summarizes promising tools to improve rural health.
In rural areas, 18.4% of the population is over 65 years of age compared to 14.5% in urban areas, and rates of obesity, diabetes and smoking are higher. Expanding local provider communities and using technology to increase access to providers and specialists can help rural Americans get the health care they need.
Rural Statistics - Census Bureau, Rural America Interactive
1990: US Census data
2010: American FactFinder
Age: U.S. Census Bureau, 2011–2015 American Community Survey, 5-year estimates; 2015 American Community Survey.
Over 65 statistic: Nathan Paluso, Zachariah Croll, Deborah Thayer, Jean Talbot, Andrew Coburn, “Residential Settings and Healthcare Use of the Rural "Oldest-Old" Medicare Population,” Maine Rural Health Research Center
Income and Poverty in the United States: 2018; September 2019, Report Number p60-266
- Poverty Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2018 and 2019 Annual Social and Economic Supplements (CPS ASEC).
"In 2018, the poverty line was $12,490 an individual and $25,100 for a family of four."
Income Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2018 and 2019 Annual Social and Economic Supplements.
Health Outcomes Citations:
Rural Health Data Explorer, Diagnosed Diabetes Prevalence. Original data from CDC Diabetes County Data Indicators.
Rural Health Data Explorer, Obesity Prevalence. Original data from CDC Diabetes County Data Indicators.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Tobacco Use by Geographic Region.
Hospital statistic: NC Rural Health Research Program, The Cecil G Sheps Center for Health Services Research, University of North Carolina
Maternal statistics: National Rural Health Association and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
PCP (2014), Dentist (2015) and Total Physician (2015) statistics: RHI Hub and HRSA Area Health Resource Files
Voter access to specialists: Bipartisan Policy Center & American Heart Association Rural Health Care Polling Presentation (June 2019)
Telehealth statistic: NPR/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Life in Rural America Part II
Rural residency: HRSA
National Health Service Corps: NHSC
Scope of Practice laws: Rural Health Information Hub, Scope of Practice
EMS: Rural Health Information Hub, Resources on Emergency Medical Services
FCC statistic of 21.3 million
Microsoft study of 162 million
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