The Central Health Medical Access Program (MAP) is a health coverage program designed to provide low-income Travis County residents without insurance with access to medical care. With MAP, individuals and their eligible family members can visit the doctor or dentist and obtain necessary medications. The program also provides information about Medicaid policy and the Children's Health Insurance Program, as well as how new rules help protect people from unexpected medical bills and disputes between healthcare providers and health plans. RhiHub's thematic guide on the use of telehealth in rural healthcare offers an overview of how telehealth is being used to improve access to healthcare in rural areas.
Primary care providers offer a wide range of services and treat a variety of medical conditions. In the event of closures, alternative models and types of providers may be needed to meet access needs in rural areas. However, temporary changes in telehealth policy due to the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the potential for unequal access to these services due to a lack of access to broadband Internet in some rural areas. The North Carolina Rural Health Research Program has an interactive map showing the locations of rural hospital closures in the United States.
RhiHub's section on rural health models and innovations highlights various programs for care coordination and rural medical homes. While access to medical care does not guarantee good health, it is essential for the well-being and optimal health of the population. Community paramedicine is a model of care in which paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) play expanded roles to help those in need receive health services without duplicating services available in the community. Thanks to telehealth, rural patients can see specialists in a timely manner while staying close to home or at a local facility.
To address access issues for rural veterans, the VA has created community outpatient clinics in many rural areas, as well as using mobile clinics and telehealth services. Telehealth systems can be used to provide mental health services in a variety of rural settings, such as rural clinics, schools, residential programs, long-term care facilities, and individual patient homes. Palliative care and hospice agencies often face similar barriers and challenges as other health services in rural areas. The Adolescent Health Department at People's Community Clinic is making a real difference in the lives of young people in the Austin community.
The lack of detox providers in rural areas creates a barrier to care that could cause patients to give up or delay necessary treatment. Medicare Advantage plan copays and deductibles are higher in rural areas, and free benefits such as gyms and transportation are less frequently offered.