Insured for Health Care: Rural and Urban

[imgbelt img=UninsuredMap528Corrected.jpg]More people in rural America have health insurance than in the cities. But that’s not the whole story.


[imgcontainer] [img:UninsuredMap528Corrected.jpg] [source]Daily Yonder/Census Bureau

This map shows the percentage of people under 65 without health insurance in every rural and exurban county in the country. Green counties have uninsured rates below the national average. Brown and red counties have rates above the national average.

A slightly higher percentage of rural Americans has health insurance than do urbanites, according to a new study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. But there are large disparities in health care coverage state-to-state.

In rural counties as of 2006, 82.6% of people under the age of 65 (when Medicare coverage begins) had some kind of health insurance coverage. In urban counties, 82% of those under 65 years of age had health care coverage.

Exurbia had the highest rate of insured residents. In exurban counties, 83.4% of those under 65 had health insurance, according to the Daily Yonder’s calculations. (A map of rural, urban and exurban counties can be found here.)

The map above shows how all the nation’s rural and exurban counties compare to the national average. In the United States, 17.8 percent of those under 65 don’t have any health insurance. The green counties on the map are doing better than the national average. They have uninsured rates below 17.3 percent.

Brown and red counties have higher percentages of people without health insurance than 18.3 percent. Urban counties are in white. Click here or on the map to enlarge the image.

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issued a report in 2003 on health insurance in rural America. The Kaiser study emphasized that rural areas adjacent to metro areas were entirely different from rural counties that were more remote.

Kaiser found that 24 percent of those living in remote rural areas were uninsured. In urban areas and those counties adjacent to metro areas, 18 percent lacked health insurance.

“Residents of rural, non-adjacent (to metro areas) counties have the lowest rate of private health insurance, largely because they are less likely to be offered health benefits through their jobs,” Kaiser reported. Workers in these more rural counties were more likely to be earning low wages (then, under $7 an hour), and in remote areas low-wage workers made up 60 percent of all uninsured workers, compared to 40 percent of the uninsured workers in the cities.

The Census Bureau study reported here is based on a combination of sources — surveys, tax returns and Medicaid records. Counting the number of uninsured at the county level is imprecise, but this is the best the Census Bureau has to offer.

To download an Excel file showing all U.S. counties and the numbers of those without health insurance, click here.