Alaska derived its name from “Alyeska,”an Aleut native term which means "The Great Land." In 1867, Alaska was purchased from Russia for $7.2 million, but it was not until 1959 when this "Land of the Midnight Sun" covered with forests and glaciers became the 49th state. Alaska is the largest state and covers 571,951 square miles, with a 2014 estimated population of 736,732 people – 238,483 living in rural Alaska (USDA-ERS). Juneau, the capital, is located in the southeastern coastal region of the state. The state’s largest cities are Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 67.3% of the state’s population is white, 14.7% is Alaskan Native/American Indian, 5.8% is Asian, 3.9% is African-American/Black, and 6.6% is of Hispanic/Latino origin (U.S. Census, 2013).

Alaska Rural Healthcare Facilities

Alaska Rural Healthcare Facilities map

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There are 22 hospitals in Alaska (Kaiser, 2013), 17 of which are located in rural areas (North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center, Dec. 2008). The state has 13 hospitals identified as Critical Access Hospitals (Flex Team, 9/2015). There are zero Rural Health Clinics in Alaska (Alaska SORH), and 25 Federally Qualified Health Centers provide services at 168 sites in the state (NACHC, 2013).

Selected Social Determinants of Health for Rural Alaska

Most Alaskans have some form of health insurance coverage, although 16.0% of its residents lack health insurance (Kaiser, 2013). According to the USDA Economic Research Service, the average per-capita income for Alaskans in 2013 was $50,150, although rural per-capita income lagged at $47,958. Estimates from 2013 indicate that a poverty rate of 13.9% exists in rural Alaska, compared to a 8.2% level in urban areas of the state. The ERS reports, based on 2009-2013 ACS data, that 10.3% of the rural population has not completed high school, compared to 7.4% of urban populations. The unemployment rate in rural Alaska is at 9.0%, while in urban Alaska it is at 5.8% (USDA-ERS, 2014).

For a national comparison, please see an overview of the United States.

Data Sources
Alaska State Office of Rural Health; Flex Monitoring Team: Critical Access Hospital List; Kaiser Family Foundation State Health Facts; National Association of Community Health Centers: Key Health Center Data By State; U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts; USDA Economic Research Service: State Fact Sheets


Alaska Office of Rural Health
Phone: 907.465.8618
Collects and disseminates rural health care information and data; is engaged in health care provider recruitment and retention; provides technical assistance to rural providers, hospital and communities; and coordinates rural health policy analysis.
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