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For Rural Americans, Healthcare and Hospitals Can Be Far Away

A new Pew Research Center study finds rural Americans face longer travel times to hospitals and feel they have lower quality healthcare than urban residents.
Residents in the West North Central region travel an average of 16 minutes by car to the nearest hospital.
Residents in the West North Central region travel an average of 16 minutes by car to the nearest hospital.Pew Research Center

As a wave of hospital closures sweeps the country, rural Americans must drive much farther to the nearest hospital compared to their suburban and urban counterparts. That’s according to a new report from Pew Research Center, that calculated distance, travel time, and type of nearest hospital for more than 10,000 U.S. adults.

Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of rural residents surveyed said access to good doctors and hospitals is a major problem in their community, whereas only 18 percent of urban residents and 9 percent of suburban residents agreed.