Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Health Care Access and Use Among the Rural Uninsured


The uninsured have poorer access to care and obtain care at greater acuity than those with health insurance; however, the differential impact of being uninsured in rural versus urban areas is largely unknown. Using data from the 2002–2007 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, we examine whether uninsured rural residents have different patterns of health care use than their urban counterparts, and the factors associated with any differences. We find that being uninsured leads to poorer access in both rural and urban areas, yet the rural uninsured are more likely to have a usual source of care and use services than their urban counterparts. Further, controlling for demographic and health characteristics, the access and use differences between the uninsured and insured in rural areas are smaller than those observed in urban areas. This suggests that rural providers may impose fewer barriers on the uninsured who seek care than providers in urban areas.

Suggested Citation:

Ziller EC, Lenardson JD, Coburn AF.  Health Care Access and Use Among the Rural Uninsured. J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2012; 23(3):1327-1345.  doi: 10.1353/hpu.2012.0100

Publication Type: 
Journal Article
Publish Date: 
August 1, 2012