Selected Comparisons and Implications of a National Rural and Urban Survey on Health Care Access, Demographics, and Policy Issues


  • This project was supported by the Rural Policy Research Institute, the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development, the Farm Foundation and Iowa State University. The authors would like to acknowledge helpful contributions by Charles Fluharty, Sam Cordes, Lorraine Garkovich, Carol Volker, Ron Young, the RUPRI Health Delivery Panel, Rural Policy Panel, the Gallup Organization and congressional staff who participated in the survey development.

Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, Heady Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011-1070.


Abstract: As the national health debate evolved over the past two years, a need to better understand the differential constraints of rural health delivery and popular attitudes toward policy initiatives became apparent. Selected 1994 and 1995 results of two national surveys designed to compare rural and urban household responses are reported. The average distance those living in rural households must travel to access medical providers and emergency care is nearly double that of urban household residents. Rural household resident responses show a higher level of acceptance of nonphysician health care providers such as physicians assistants and registered nurses. Means testing of Medicare programs and use of special indicators for providing more Medicaid funds to states with medically underserved and sparsely populated areas are examples of two policy initiatives that receive favorable responses from both urban and rural household residents, but would disproportionately benefit rural areas.