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Rural Healthcare Needs the ACA

Cora Nucci, for HealthLeaders Media, January 26, 2011

People who live in rural areas have less access to medical care than residents of urban areas, ergo they receive fewer health services, such as surgery, right?

Not so fast. Despite all that's been written about barriers to access and an acute shortage of providers in rural areas, a study published this month in the Archives of Surgery offered a surprising revelation.

The study's authors set out to determine whether Medicare beneficiariesin rural areas were less likely to undergo a variety of surgicalprocedures compared with their urban counterparts. What they concluded was the exact opposite: "Medicare beneficiaries living in rural areaswere more likely to undergo a broad array of surgical procedurescompared with those living in urban areas."

Specifically, researchers from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and Southern Illinois University School of Medicine found that compared with urban Medicare beneficiaries, ruralMedicare beneficiaries were more likely to undergo:

  • carotid endarterectomy (35%)
  • lumbar spine fusion (32%)
  • knee replacement (30%)
  • abdominal aortic aneurysm repair (28%)
  • prostatectomy (22%)
  • aorticvalve replacement (18%)
  • open reduction and internal fixation of the femur (16%)
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