The Crisis in Rural Health Care
What if you had an accident and the closest Emergency Room was over 30 minutes away?
What if you were sick and there were no physicians or hospital beds in your community?
Millions of Americans live in rural communities that don’t have essential healthcare services such as a hospital, an emergency room, or a primary care clinic. They face long delays in getting care if they’re in an accident or have symptoms of a heart attack, stroke, or an infectious disease such as COVID-19. Even if they have insurance to pay for health care services, there is nowhere in their community they can use it.
More and more Americans are facing this situation because rural hospitals are being forced to close. Many small rural hospitals not only provide access to prompt emergency care in case of an accident or sudden illness; they are often the principal or sole provider of all healthcare services in their community, including laboratory testing, maternity care, rehabilitation, and even primary care. When these hospitals close, all healthcare services in the community can disappear.
More than 130 rural hospitals have closed over the past decade, and over 600 additional rural hospitals — more than 30% of all rural hospitals in the country — are at risk of closing in the near future. Rural hospitals are at risk of closure because they lose money delivering services to patients. In the past, many hospitals have received grants, local tax revenues, or subsidies from other businesses that offset these losses, but there is no guarantee that these funds will continue to be available or sufficient to cover the higher costs hospitals are experiencing. Millions of people could be directly harmed if these hospitals close.
Locations of Rural Hospitals in the U.S.