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Rural Health Information Hub

People with Low Incomes

Since the majority of rural residents rely on individually-owned cars to meet their daily transportation needs, people with low incomes who may not be able to purchase a reliable vehicle face additional transportation challenges. Programs have been established over the years to help alleviate some of this burden.

Some communities have partnered with Community Action Agencies, which already target and provide services to families with low incomes, to help fill the transportation gap for this population. States and local jurisdictions, healthcare providers, and human service agencies can also partner with Community Action Agencies to ensure that all community members have reliable transportation.

In addition, for some rural residents with low incomes who have health insurance through Medicaid, non-emergency transportation for healthcare services is paid for through the program. This is an important benefit in many rural areas where people may otherwise go without care. Non-emergency transportation benefits through Medicaid vary state by state. Some states provide rides for free, some charge a small fee, and some may have restrictions on distance traveled and/or the number of times a person can use this benefit.

Resources to Learn More

The Stranded Poor: Recognizing the Importance of Public Transportation for Low-Income Households
This issue brief describes the importance and need for public transportation opportunities for rural residents with low income. Multiple case studies are included.
Author(s): Criden, M.
Organization(s): National Association for State Community Services Programs
Date: 2008