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We see this over and again: An assertion that people in rural America have less insurance than those living in the cities. This statement of “fact” appears in reports and in speeches. Most recently, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said that “there are significantly higher number of uninsured people as a percentage of population in rural communities.”
Is Vilsack right? Well, no, he isn’t. The Yonder analyzed the most recent Census figures and found that the percentage of people under the age of 65 without health insurance is HIGHER in URBAN America than it is in rural. For some reason the exact opposite is reported time and again. Most recently, the Center for Community Change issued a report finding (according to a summary) that “rural areas have the highest proportion of both uninsured and under-insured.” Folks that just ain’t so — at least the latest official data comes to the exact OPPOSITE conclusion. Surely too many people are without a way to pay for health care, but it’s not a problem that’s any worse in rural America than it is in the cities.
Why would Secretary Vilsack be so far off base? All he has to do is go down the hall to his Economic Research Service which released a report on rural health care in the last month. The ERS found that rural people have health problems — higher rates of mortality, disability and chronic disease than in the cities. But the ERS also found, like the Yonder, that metro and non metro rates of health insurance coverage are the same.