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Report: Rural Children Increasingly Dependent on Public Health Insurance

Children in rural areas are relying on public health insurance programs, like Medicaid and the federal Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), at an increasing rate and more than their urban peers.

First Focus, a Washington-based bipartisan advocacy organization, recently released a report examining trends in health insurance coverage for rural and urban children. The report found that in 2012, 47 percent of rural children were covered by public insurance compared to 38 percent of urban children. Between 2000 and 2012, the percentage of rural children covered by public insurance plans increased by nearly 20 percentage points.

At the same time, the percentage of rural children covered by employer-based health insurance plans dropped from 63 percent in 2000 to 49 percent in 2012. The report also found that the percentage of uninsured children in rural and urban areas has decreased in recent years, and as of 2012, 9 percent of urban and rural children lacked health insurance. Hispanic children were the most likely to lack health insurance in both urban and rural areas.

The report cited the prevalence of "temporary or intermittent jobs" and child poverty in rural areas as factors that contribute to a reliance on public coverage. In 2012, 52 percent of rural children lived in low-income homes, compared to 42 percent of urban children.

Health insurance can be critical in rural areas because rural children are more prone than their urban peers to obesity, diabetes, and asthma. 

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