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Poll: Many rural Americans struggle to pay medical bills, access health care

A new national poll finds that while rural Americans are mostly satisfied with life, there is a strong undercurrent of financial insecurity that can create very serious problems for many people living in rural communities (Source: “Poll: Many Rural Americans Struggle With Financial Insecurity, Access To Health Care,” National Public Radio, May 21, 2019).

The findings come from two surveys National Public Radio conducted with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health on day-to-day life and health in rural America.

Several findings stand out: A substantial number (40%) of rural Americans struggle with routine medical bills, food and housing. And about half (49%) say they could not afford to pay an unexpected $1,000 expense of any type.

One-quarter of respondents (26%) said they have not been able to get health care when they needed it at some point in recent years. That's despite the fact that nearly 9 in 10 (87%) have health insurance of some sort — a level of coverage that is higher now than a decade ago, in large part owing to the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid in many states.