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Rural Health Information Hub

Access to Healthcare

Rural communities face barriers in accessing healthcare that can make it difficult to receive care. Barriers in rural communities include a lack of providers, financial concerns, and physical distance to the providers. Access to quality healthcare, whether it is physical or financial, can be a determinant in the implementation of some programs as well as the improvement of health outcomes in a community. Rural communities are disproportionately affected by barriers like poverty, low literacy, and limited transportation resources, so it is important to assess these barriers for communities prior to implementing a health promotion program.

There are promising approaches to increase healthcare access and improve health outcomes in rural communities. School-based health centers can improve healthcare access for children and their families. The Social Determinants of Health in Rural Communities Toolkit provides information on program models in healthcare settings designed to improve healthcare access, including:

Additional resources and information about healthcare access in rural areas, including barriers and opportunities can be found in the Healthcare Access in Rural Communities Topic Guide.

Resources to Learn More

Chartbook: Trends in Rural Children's Health and Access to Care
Describes the demographic characteristics and health access related data of children living in rural areas. Includes discussion on diversity, poverty, health insurance coverage including Medicaid, healthcare utilization, use of primary provider, and health status as reported by parents.
Author(s): Probst, J.C. & Jones, K.M.
Organization(s): South Carolina Rural Health Research Center
Date: 1/2017

Changing the Culture of Health in Childhood Obesity: Implementation Toolkit for Medicaid Health Plans
A comprehensive resource for Medicaid Health Plans across the U.S. Highlights current research and offers support to managed care organizations looking to develop, test, and implement programs to prevent and treat childhood obesity. This toolkit is a companion to 2016 report, Overview and Action Plan for Medicaid Health Plans.
Author(s): Moore, J.E., & Tuck, K.D.
Organization(s): Childhood Obesity Prevention & Treatment (CHOPT) for Medicaid, Institute for Medicaid Innovation (IMI)
Date: 6/2018

Improving Access and Systems of Care for Evidence-Based Childhood Obesity Treatment: Conference Key Findings and Next Steps
Discusses recommendations from various stakeholders for evidence-based care for childhood obesity including family-based multicomponent behavioral therapy, integrated care model, and multi-disciplinary care team.
Author(s): Wilfley, D.E., Staiano, A.E., Altman, M., et al.
Citation: Obesity (Silver Spring), 25(1), 16-29
Date: 12/2016