Does ACA Insurance Coverage Expansion Improve the Financial Performance of Rural Hospitals?

The implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is changing hospital reimbursement in important ways.  The most significant changes stem from increasing access to health insurance coverage for previously uninsured or under-insured populations. Since rural residents are more likely than urban residents to be uninsured, increased access to health insurance should, in… Read more »

Characteristics of Medicaid Beneficiaries Who Use Rural Health Clinics

For almost four decades, Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) (currently numbering about 4,100) have served patients from underserved rural areas. Although Medicaid is an important payer for RHCs, little is known about Medicaid patients and the services provided to them partly because of the complexity of identifying claims generated from RHCs in Medicaid claims data sources…. Read more »

Identifying Rural Health Clinics in Medicaid Data

In 1977, Public Law 95-210 created the Rural Health Clinic (RHC) Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement designation for qualified primary care practices. RHCs must be located in non-urban areas with documented health care shortages. There are currently more than 4,100 RHCs across the U.S. Some RHCs operate as independent medical practices, while others are part of… Read more »

Geographic Variation in the Profitability of Urban and Rural Hospitals

The popular business quote “No margin, no mission” succinctly states the importance of profitability. The notion that if a hospital doesn’t make enough money to keep its doors open, its higher purpose is moot may be a simplistic view, but historic and recent evidence suggest that unprofitability can reduce hospital services and quality, or worse,… Read more »

Geographic Variation in Risk of Financial Distress among Rural Hospitals

From 2005 to 2015, 112 rural hospital closures have been identified (North Carolina Rural Health Research Program, 2015). Although six of these closed hospitals have since reopened, the remaining closures impact millions of rural residents in communities that are typically older and poorer, more dependent on public insurance programs, and in worse health than residents… Read more »

Prediction of Financial Distress among Rural Hospitals

From 2005 through 2015, more than 100 rural hospitals have closed their doors to patients in need of inpatient services. Though a handful of these closed hospitals have since reopened, the remaining closures leave millions of rural residents at greater risk of negative health and economic hardship due to the loss of local acute care services.  Policymakers,… Read more »

Estimated Costs of Rural Freestanding Emergency Departments

Since 2005, more than 100 rural hospitals have closed and more are at risk. Rural hospital closures jeopardize access to emergency services in the affected communities. As communities react to and/or prepare for closures, providers and policy makers seek a viable alternative for emergency services provided in a rural hospital setting. A rural freestanding emergency… Read more »

Estimating Eligibility and Uptake of Federally Facilitated Marketplace Insurance in North Carolina in the Second Open Enrollment Period

As the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) enters its third open enrollment period, focus is shifting toward examining which communities have lower uptake in coverage and how to increase enrollment. In national analysis of the first open enrollment period, Holmes and colleagues found that rural areas had lower rates of plan selections. However, these estimates are… Read more »