For the Country Doctor, Substitute the Rural Health Network

Monitoring the transformation of rural health care delivery and finance

Between 1996 and 2003, researchers at the Rural Health Research Center at the University of Minnesota studied changes in the rural health system and produced and disseminated several publications describing those changes.

Key Findings

  • Potential access to health maintenance organizations (HMOs) in rural areas increased substantially in the mid-1990s, but whether this translates into sustained HMO enrollment in rural areas remains to be seen.

  • Rural enrollment in Medicaid HMOs and prepaid health plans was highly concentrated.

  • The rural enrollment rate in Medicare risk plans was less than 1 percent and concentrated in a few states.

  • The great majority of rural health network member organizations have not integrated their clinical and financial functions with other members.

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