A new report entitled More Choice, Better Coverage: Health Insurance Reform and Rural America, examines the healthcare status quo in rural communities and the importance of enacting health insurance reform. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Senator Kay Hagan, D-N.C., spoke about the report and rural health care in general during a press conference Tuesday afternoon. Sebelius told reporters that the report shows that the current system is not working for the almost 50 million Americans who live in rural communities across the country.
"A lot of rural Americans are self-employed or work for small businesses including family farms," Sebelius said. "A lot of them have to buy insurance on the individual market where they don't have many choices and they have extremely high prices and rules, which don't protect consumers."
Sebelius also discussed the fact that even if they get insurance, two-thirds of the medically underserved communities are in rural America so they may have trouble finding a doctor and are likely to miss critical preventative care.
"Health insurance reform starts to solve these and other problems," Sebelius said. "Creating an insurance exchange so that family farmers and self-employed rural citizens can join together with negotiating power that the big boys now have."
Hagan spoke about how right now rural Americans are more likely to be uninsured than their counterparts in urban areas.
"Forty percent of self-employed workers living in rural areas are uninsured," Hagan said. "Compared to 32% in more urban areas."
According to the report one in five uninsured Americans lives in a rural area. Those rural Americans pay for nearly half of their health care costs out of their own pocket, and nearly 50 million rural Americans lack access to a primary care provider because of shortages in their communities.
The full report is available at www.healthreform.gov. To listen to Sebelius and Hagan's remarks use the audio player above.