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Medicaid and Rural Health

Medicaid is an important source of health care coverage for the 60 million Americans living in rural areas. Nearly a quarter of individuals under age 65 who live in rural areas are covered by Medicaid, as well as 22 percent of people dually enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare. Overall, rural residents have worse health outcomes and tend to be older, poorer, and sicker than those in urban areas.

This brief provides an overview of the role Medicaid plays in rural health. It describes the characteristics of rural residents generally, including socioeconomic factors, insurance status, and health status. It then describes provider availability, particularly for primary care services and rural hospitals. The brief concludes with a discussion of Medicaid policies and services that are particularly important for providing health care in rural areas.