Rural Hospitals are closing… | #ProjectHealthViz | 2019 | 02

Back in late December I was starting to look ahead to 2019 and thinking about what I wanted to accomplish. Among other things, I wanted to participate more in Lindsey Betzendahl‘s awesome dataviz project, #ProjectHealthViz

And while I’m already one month behind, I really wanted to make sure that I completed something for this month’s topic: Rural Hospital Closings

The role of Medicaid in rural America

Unless you’ve been hibernating for the better part of a decade than you are well aware that healthcare costs in the US are continuing to rise with no signs of slowing down. Additionally, the US has certain programs in place to help offset healthcare costs for low income individuals and families. One of these programs is Medicaid.

“Medicaid in the United States is a joint federal and state program that helps with medical costs for some people with limited income and resources. Medicaid also offers benefits not normally covered by Medicare, like nursing home care and personal care services” (wikipedia)

In 2009, when Congress approved the Affordable Health Care Act, aka ObamaCare, one of the provisions was states had the option to expand to a larger population of people who wouldn’t receive those benefits otherwise.

Simply put, if an individual has medicaid and incurs healthcare costs, the government (state or federal) will pay a portion of, or all of the bill. If an individual is uninsured and has no funds to pay for the healthcare costs, the hospital or facility eats those costs. And remember, healthcare costs are expensive.

In larger populated areas, the insured population outweigh the uninsured population, so facilities are better equipped to manage that. But that’s not the case for rural hospitals, as they have populations where the majority are uninsured. And as people continue to use those facilities but are paying for the services, it can be financially taxing for small hospitals and since 2010, the Shep Center at the University of North Carolina found that 95 rural hospitals have closed their doors. Click the image for the interactive version

Rural Hospitals



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