Validation of Commuting Area Designations for the Elderly

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project completed:
January 2003
Topic:
The lack of a valid subcounty alternative to county-based definitions of rural and urban and the reliance on the county as the basic geographic unit has been a significant problem in rural policy and research. While our Rural-Urban Commuting Areas (RUCAs) provide a valid subcounty alternative to these taxonomic schemes, there is limited experience using them with health data. This technical project evaluates the extent to which the geographic patterns of ambulatory and inpatient physician utilization from the Medicare data set mirror the commuter-pattern RUCA codes for Washington State. The study examines how well RUCAs capture the functional geographic Medicare travel relationships in Washington State and where differences occur.

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