health insurance, rural health, MRHRC, USM Aging Initiative, Health and Wellness, health system reform
Enrollment in high deductible health plans (HDHPs) has increased amid concerns about growing health care costs to patients, employers, and insurers. Prior research indicates that rural individuals are more likely than their urban counterparts to face high out-of-pocket health care costs relative to income, despite coverage through private health insurance, a difference related both to the lower income of rural residents generally and to the quality of the private plans through which they have coverage. Using the 2007-2010 National Health Interview Survey, this study examines rural residents’ enrollment in HDHPs and the implications for evolving Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Marketplaces. Rural residents with private insurance are more likely to have an HDHP than are urban, especially when they live in remote, rural areas. Among those covered by an HDHP, rural residents are more likely to have low incomes and more limited educational attainment than urban residents, suggesting that it will be important to monitor HDHP enrollment, plan affordability, and health plan literacy among plans available through the Health Insurance Marketplaces.
This study was funded under a Cooperative Agreement with the federal Office of Rural Health Policy, Health Resources and Services Administration, DHHS. The conclusions and opinions expressed in the paper are the authors' and no endorsement by the University of Southern Maine or the sponsor is intended or should be inferred.
Lenardson, J. D., Ziller, E. C., & Coburn, A. F. (2014). High deductible health insurance plans in rural areas. (Working Paper #55). Portland, ME: University of Southern Maine, Muskie School of Public Service, Maine Rural Health Research Center.