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Rural NV Uninsured Rate Drops as Medicaid Expands

Children with insured parents are more likely to be insured and are more likely to get preventive care, according to the report. (Nik Mock/Twenty20)
Children with insured parents are more likely to be insured and are more likely to get preventive care, according to the report. (Nik Mock/Twenty20)
September 26, 2018

CARSON CITY, Nev. – Nevada has seen some of the biggest declines in the nation for health care uninsured rates in rural communities and small towns, according to a new report from Georgetown University and the University of North Carolina.

Rural communities and small towns in the U.S. tend to have more people without health insurance than cities do.

But the report, released Wednesday, finds states that have expanded access to Medicaid have been able to narrow that urban-rural gap.

The report shows when adults are able to access health coverage, their children are more likely to get coverage, too.

Emma Rodriguez, children's health policy manager with the Children's Advocacy Alliance, says increased access to health care is especially important in rural Nevada communities where childhood asthma is common.

"The effect of asthma is compounded by our dry climate in Nevada and the dust and quick temperature changes, but Medicaid has helped it so a lot of these people have access to providers and care when before they wouldn't," she explains.

As of 2009, about 42 percent of low-income adults in rural Nevada didn't have health insurance. By 2016, the rate had plummeted to just 14 percent. That's the second-biggest decline in the nation.

The study's co-author, Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, points out Medicaid expansion has also benefited rural economies by helping more small hospitals stay open.

"A lot of these hospitals are facing pretty tough times if a lot of their patients are uninsured,” she explains. “So, not only is a hospital critical for rural communities but they're also employers, often one of the largest employers in these small towns."

The report shows states such as Nevada, which have expanded access to Medicaid, have seen drops in uninsured rates three times higher than states that have not expanded access.

Katherine Davis-Young, Public News Service - NV