Health Study: "NE Rural Counties Have Lower Health Insurance Coverage Rates"

A new health study says more uninsured people live in rural Nebraska, and experts say the implications for the future affect all of us.

A recent study shows if you live in rural counties, you're less likely to have health insurance.

"And if you don't have health insurance then the rest of us who do have health insurance end up paying for that through higher premiums or whats called uncompensated care. You can't pay the doctor you can't pay the hospital," said Author Jon Bailey, with the Center for Rural Affairs.

Author Jon Bailey says counties with high uninsured rates, 21-percent or higher, exist in more than a dozen counties in the state.

"This is just not an individual problem. This really does affect all of us - it affects those of us who do have health insurance by increasing our costs, it affects the healthcare system by increasing their costs," said Bailey.

That cost seems to be one of the biggest challenges, along with less providers than in the more populated areas.

"So there are a lot less big groups and that means sometimes folks have to go out on their own to get insurance and that can be very very costly," said the Executive Director for Central Nebraska Community Services Jose Zapata.

So Zapata says people go without health coverage.

"You might see ten to 30-percent less folks insured especially when you get into the population of sixty five years old," said Zapata.

The study suggests uninsured rates will be cut by nearly half, if lawmakers expand Medicaid as allowed by the Affordable Care Act, but Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman says its not that easy. Heineman believes the state can't afford an unfunded medicaid expansion

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