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Rural Health: Isolation, Access Issues

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Rural Health: Isolation, Access Issues

December 16, 2008

Nearly 23 percent of Americans live in rural areas, according to a 2007 estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau, which is the most recent estimate as of August 2009. They face unique health challenges as a result of their geographic isolation and low population density, according to 2007 census estimates. For example, only one in 10 doctors practice in rural areas. Rural residents tend to be poorer and less likely to have employer-based insurance than urban dwellers. Recruiting and retaining qualified health care professionals and keeping hospitals and clinics operating in the black are additional challenges. Increasing the use of telehealth services, which link consumers to medical professionals via computers or telephones, is often cited as a way to improve rural health care. Updated February 2010

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