Healthcare Use and Access Among Rural & Urban Non-elderly Disabled Medicare Beneficiaries

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project funded:
September 2016
Project completed:
February 2020

Disabled people under 65 constitute an especially vulnerable and underserved group within the Medicare population. In comparison to elderly enrollees, disabled beneficiaries are more likely to be poor and to report financial and other obstacles to obtaining healthcare. Recent research suggests that disabled individuals in rural areas may be disproportionately affected by health access barriers in the form of high out-of-pocket costs. These and other barriers may lead to rural-urban disparities in healthcare use among the disabled. This study used the 2009-2013 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey to compare health access and use of health services in rural versus urban disabled Medicare beneficiaries under 65, and the factors associated with rural access problems. Findings from this study help policymakers understand the needs of the vulnerable rural population and how best to adjust Medicare benefit design and service delivery to reduce barriers to care.