HHS: Health coverage increases in rural counties

HHS: Health coverage increases in rural counties

1.7 million rural Americans purchased coverage through Health Insurance Marketplace for 2016.

An analysis by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that health care coverage in rural counties increased by 8 percentage points between late 2013 and early 2015, and the share of rural Americans unable to afford needed care dropped by almost six percentage points.

“The Affordable Care Act has helped millions of people in rural areas access quality, affordable health coverage,” said Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “As someone from rural America, I know how important these gains in coverage and access to care are to communities like my hometown of Hinton, West Virginia.”

In the HealthCare.gov states alone, 1.7 million rural Americans purchased coverage through the Marketplace for 2016, comprising nearly 1 in 5 plan selections. (Photo: everythingpossible/Thinkstock)

The new analysis, which examines independent studies and other data, documents the success of the Health Insurance Marketplace in particular in expanding coverage and access to care in rural areas. In the HealthCare.gov states alone, 1.7 million rural Americans purchased coverage through the Marketplace for 2016, comprising nearly 1 in 5 plan selections. This represents an 11% increase from 2015, greater than the overall increase in Marketplace enrollment. The Affordable Care Act also helped ensure that Marketplace plans remained affordable for rural households. For the almost 9 in 10 rural consumers who are eligible for premium tax credits, the average premium increased only 4%, or $5 per month, between 2015 and 2016.

Rural Americans have also experienced improved access to care as the ACA’s major coverage provisions took effect. For example, among rural individuals, the share without access to a personal physician dropped 3.4 percentage points, and the share unable to afford needed care dropped 5.9 percentage points.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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