Geographic Access to Health Care for Rural Medicare Beneficiaries


This study looked at where Medicare beneficiaries of five states obtain their care, how far they travel for that care, and the mix of physician specialties from whom they obtain their ambulatory care. Findings from this study suggest that rural residents do not rely on urban areas for the majority of their care. Those living in small and isolated rural areas have decreased geographic access to healthcare providers, particularly specialists, and rely heavily on generalists for the majority of their care. Additionally, results of the study suggest that these individuals have few visits overall and must travel longer distances to access certain types of care. These findings have policy implications for geographic reimbursement differentials, telehealth networks, and graduate medical education.

WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
Leighton Chan, Gary Hart, David Goodman