Less Access To Health Care In Rural Areas

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — People living in rural Minnesota have less access to health care than city residents. That finding comes in a study commissioned by UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform and Modernization, a Minnetonka-based insurer.

“Perhaps not surprisingly the availability of specialty services and primary care is lower in rural parts of Minnesota,” said Simon Stevens, chairman of UnitedHealth Center.

The report says there are only 76 primary care physicians per 100,000 rural Minnesota residents compared to 122 physicians per 100,000 urban and suburban Minnesotans.

Rural patients report an average distance of about 60 miles between their primary care physician’s office and a specialist’s office.

The study offers some remedies.

“A stronger role for nurse practitioners — those are skilled nurses who provide care in rural clinics or in doctors’ offices and the other would be making more use of new technology,” Stevens said.

Nearly half of rural doctors nationwide expect to see a shortage of physicians and mid-level health professionals in the coming years.

WCCO’s Bruce Hagevik Interviews Simon Stevens


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