Access to Health Care in Rural Communities

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Access to Health Care – Multifacited Concerns

The challenges that face people in rural communities when it comes to heathcare are multifaceted.  The first thing that people consider is the cost of care and insurance.   Once this first hurdle is overcome the stark reality of lack of providers and failing rural health care centers comes into play.  The lack of a network that can provide servcies outside the urban centers of State of Missouri effects the ability of people to get preventative care, ongoing treatment, and have access to accute care life saving services.   

The Missouri Rural Heathcare Reality

15 Hospitals have closed since 2014

Hospital networks are contracting with 15 less hospitals available in Missouri in just 6 years.  10 of those hopsitals were in rural communities where there are less options and facilities. 

Lack of Specialists

There is a lack of specalistis in rural communities forcing people to drive several hours for speicalized care and often to have carry the expense of overnight stays. 

Big Pharma and Drug Prices

Federal regulations and the compeitive environment have created a situation where Big Pharmasutical companies control the prices of life saving medication.  Without insurance most medications are out of reach for the average person. With insurance plans deductables and co-pays make the price tag outside the reach of many people in rural areas where wages are lower and an aging population faces no support. 

Aging Population Base

An aging population base in the rural areas is tasking existing medical facilities.  Younger people are leaving the rural communities for the hope of better jobs with higher wages. The folks left on the farm have less support and face old age without care. 

High Deductible Insurance Plans Only Cover Emergency Care

High deductible insurance plans are often the only ones available or affordable in rural areas.  The lack of options make often leave families with little choice. High dedutlble plans discourage people from getting care for things that are not life threatening.  With huge deductibles the choice is often made to avoid care instead of taking on crippling debt.

Mo Dept of Health 2015 Study. Physician-to-Popluation Radio Mat of Missouri Counties

Medicaid Expansion and Implementation

Medicaid expansion passed in August of 2020. It was estimated before Covid-19 that over 500,000 Missourians would benefit from Medicaid expansion and that over 230,000 of those were in rural communities.  The challenge of reaching people and helping to implement this plan is daunting.  The plan comes into effect in July of 2021 with much work to be done between then and now.   See our full page on Medicare Expansion and Implmentation for more information and ideas of how you can help. 

R.N.s Per County 2019 Missouri Hospital Association Workforce Reprot

Regulations and Billing Systems make Small Town Doctors Close Their Doors

The image of the Small Town Doctor has all but left our memories.  The increase in regulations from insurance providers and c/omplex billing systems have made it almost impossible for indepentent physicians to stay in business.  

Mo Dept of Health 2015 Study. Geographical Distribution of Physicians per Missouri County

Mail order Medication

Many rural communities do not have access to pharmasuicals and thus must order their medication strickly in the mail.  This is not always an option for some schedule medication and for ones that must be administered under medical supervision.  With challenges to the mail system timely and reliable access to medications come into question.  

Access to Behavioral Health Services

Mental health concerns are not limited to urban centers and the access to behavior and mental health services are at an all time low in rural areas.  This leads to less care, more hospital visits and more expensive inpatient care costs.  Online visits can help with this shortage but the lack of connectivity in rural areas limits the effectiveness of these plans. 

LPN’s Per County 2019 Missouri Hospital Association Workforce Report

Substance Abuse Crisis

Substance abuse is one of the greatest public health issues in Missouri with the rural areas have a disproportinately large % of these cases.  From Methamphetamine to opiots the rural landcape does not have the services to deal with this crisis. Missouri is know as the world leader in methamphetamines and the rural landcape is it’s main base. 

Covid-19

Lack of facilities have left the rural communities without testing, treatment or advocacy for the Covid-19 Pandemic.  With little options the virus is left unchecked. 

Missouri Health Care Access Volunteer Activities

This complex issues requires support for programs, education and focus on supporting candiates that have a plan for rural healthcare support.

What can we do the support this issue?

  • hold meetings with local communities to gather support and educate.
  • Phone bank
  • Supporting local candidates
  • Educate

Currently we are looking for volunteers and support.  If you are interested in helping out get involved with us. 

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