Medicaid’s Important Role in Small Towns and Rural Areas

 Policy experts at the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families detail the critical role of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in rural areas, where people are more likely to face challenges getting coverage. Medicaid and CHIP are public sources of insurance. Medicaid provides health care coverage for eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities, while CHIP provides low-cost health coverage to children for families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid.  Using data from the U.S. Census, Georgetown’s researchers found that Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program served a greater share of rural adults and children compared to urban areas in all states and nationwide. This is especially true of states in the South and Southwest: the highest share of adults in small towns and rural areas who are enrolled in Medicaid live in Kentucky, Louisiana, and New Mexico, covering about one-third of rural adults.  Georgetown’s issue brief also provides county-level Medicaid enrollment rates, showing the large range within and across the states.