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The State of Rural Health

Families across America are facing an uncertain future, with concerns about health care front and center. Anxieties fueled by the pandemic are driving conversations about the quality of health care, access to health care, prescription drug costs, and surprise medical bills. These conversations are happening at kitchen tables across America, including in rural America, yet, historically, policymakers do not give rural areas adequate attention.

In an effort to better understand how people in rural America feel about health care and what issues are most important to them, Families USA Action commissioned a survey with Hart Research Associates that surveyed 800 adults, ages 18 to 85, across employment status, religious affiliation, and political identification. Survey participants came from rural areas in several states — including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin— and answered questions on issues such as Medicare, the affordability of health care, access to health care, the economy, employment, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report begins with unveiling rural Americans’ attitudes on their health and livelihoods. The second section of this report identifies the current demographics of rural America, health care and economic challenges faced by people who live in rural America, as well as COVID-19 impacts on rural communities. To conclude, this report highlights key national policy recommendations that address rural America’s health care concerns and reduce health disparities in rural communities during the coronavirus pandemic and onward.