Rural America and the Affordable Care Act: Report examines rural benefits of health insurance marketplaces, cost-sharing and other incentives.
Recently the Center for Rural Affairs released a new report that examines how the Affordable Care Act will provide tax credits and subsidies through new health insurance marketplaces to make health coverage more affordable for many Americans. The report summarizes these provisions, how they will work and their importance to rural Americans.
“Beginning October 1, 2013, Americans will face a new world of health insurance purchasing,” said Jon Bailey, Director of Rural Research and Analysis at the Center for Rural Affairs and author of the report. “Many individuals and families will have the opportunity to purchase health insurance from either state-operated or federally facilitated health insurance marketplaces. Millions of uninsured Americans will be purchasing health insurance for the first time, or the first time in awhile.”
According to Bailey, a major calculation for many as they begin to research and purchase insurance through the health insurance marketplaces will be the cost – the amount in premiums individuals and families must pay for their choice of coverage.
“The affordability of insurance will determine the success of the primary goals of the Affordable Care Act – enrollment in health insurance exchanges to increase insurance coverage and reduce the nation’s uninsured,” Bailey added.
Bailey explained further that rural Americans are responsible for nearly 22 percent more of their total health care costs (premiums and out-of-pocket cost) than are urban or suburban residents. And a greater proportion of rural residents struggle with nearly every chronic disease or condition – arthritis, asthma, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and mental disorders – than do urban residents. Moreover, rural residents receive fewer regular medical check-ups and routine diagnostic tests than they medically and statistically should.
Cost-sharing will allow many rural Americans to obtain the tests and check-ups they should at lower cost, thus potentially enhancing their long-term health.
“As we have documented in a series of reports, many of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act are particularly applicable to rural people because of rural demographics as well as the unique healthcare challenges and economic circumstances of rural areas,” Bailey explained.
“Likewise, cost-sharing and limiting out-of-pocket medical expenses will be crucial for many rural families,” continued Bailey. “With generally lower rural incomes combined with higher uninsured rates, more rural residents are likely to be eligible for cost-sharing assistance in the exchanges.”
“That is what makes the exchanges, the new health insurance marketplaces, so vitally important to rural Americans,” Bailey concluded.