A new Georgetown University Center for Children and Families report released this week found more than half of children who live in South Carolina’s rural areas are covered by Medicaid.
Georgetown University research professor Jack Hoadley told South Carolina Radio Network that Medicaid already plays a major role across the state. “One of the things we found is that the Medicaid program is especially critical in the small towns and rural areas across the country and in South Carolina in particular,” he said.
But Hoadley said Medicaid is critical in both metropolitan and rural areas of the state. “So it’s really important program in both parts of South Carolina, but it’s even more important in rural areas and small towns. And that may be something everybody has fully appreciated in the past,” Hoadley said.
“We found that in South Carolina 57 percent of the children who live in rural areas and small towns receive their health coverage through Medicaid,” said Hoadley said.
The report cited several factors which may explain why a larger share of children and adults in small towns and rural areas are enrolled in Medicaid than in metropolitan counties. Hoadley said studies have shown that families in small towns and rural areas tend to have lower household incomes and are more likely to include individuals with disabilities. Rural counties also have higher unemployment rates and are less likely to have jobs that offer insurance.
Even though a greater share of rural and small town residents now receive Medicaid, researchers believe even more eligible children and adults in these communities have not signed up for available benefits. The report said that suggests that outreach efforts likely face more challenges in those areas.