Rural Living Has Its Rewards…and Risks. How You Can Minimize the Hazards.
If you’re like us, you’re proud of your rural roots and the charm of living in a small community. Clear skies, quiet evenings, the smell of a bonfire in the fall, and a traffic-free commute—unless you find yourself in the middle of a weekend charity ride of motorcycles and recreational vehicles.
There is a lot to love about life in a small town, but with all the good, we encounter an inherent drawback. (Hey, nothing is perfect.) As a result of living in sparsely populated areas, which typically means quality healthcare resources are not close by, rural Americans face more health disparities than their urban counterparts.
According to the CDC1, more than 46 million Americans, or 1 in 5 of us, live in rural areas. Overall, rural Americans are at a greater risk of death from these five leading causes:
- Heart disease
- Unintentional injury
- Chronic lower respiratory disease
Unintentional injury deaths are approximately 50% higher in rural areas than in urban areas, partly due to a greater risk of death from motor vehicle crashes and opioid overdoses. There are also high incidents of death from non-drug poisonings and falls.2
In an article for the Rural Health Information Hub’s Rural Monitor, trauma surgeon Dr. Richard Sidwell said, “If you are injured in a rural environment with the same injury as in an urban area, you are at least 50% more likely to die. This is a consistent finding.”3
Why is there such an increased risk to rural living?
Rural areas have natural characteristics that put residents at a higher risk if a problem arises. Rural Americans must travel longer distances for preventative care, which often means it gets delayed or put off entirely. In the event of an emergency, it takes time to mobilize volunteer first responders, and there is additional time required to travel to the right hospital for critical care. There is also increased exposure to specific environmental hazards, like hazardous waste sites, industrial sites, mining operations, timber activities and cropland with chemical applications.
Personal circumstances are also playing a significant role in the health outcomes of rural Americans. Rural residents tend to have higher rates of cigarette smoking, high blood pressure and obesity. Rural Americans report less leisure-time physical activity and lower seatbelt use than their urban counterparts. They also have higher rates of poverty and are less likely to have health insurance. Residents of rural areas generally tend to be older and sicker than their urban counterparts as well.
Deep breaths, everyone. There are things we can do.
Before anyone starts packing up the moving boxes, remember, there are inherent risks to just about everything. Our friends living in urban areas have their own set of hazards to consider. The key is knowing and understanding what we face and taking precautions where we can.
A few easy places to start:
- Wear a seat belt and minimize your distractions while driving. Though texting while driving in a rural area may seem less problematic (it’s not), ditch animals, other vehicles or unexpected surprises can pop up fast.
- Don’t drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Schedule your annual physical and wellness check. Then reschedule it for every year after. A routine physical and a screening for high blood pressure is the best first step to keeping tabs on your risk of heart disease, stroke or cancer.
Expert advice you can work toward gradually:
- Stop smoking.
- If you are at risk for high blood pressure, begin making an effort to control your blood pressure quality. High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
- Progressively improve your eating habits.
- Add regular physical activity to your daily routine for heart health and obesity prevention. A simple daily walk can make a big difference.
After all that, a piece of good news: Rural Americans are benefiting from significant advancements in the adoption of telehealth services. It’s easier than ever to access a professional in healthcare, mental health therapy, dietary services and physical fitness.
Your Platinum Policy Was Designed With Your Specific Needs in Mind
Platinum is based in Dubuque, Iowa. Most of our team lives in rural areas. Our representatives meet with our 70,000+ rural customers every day. We understand the specific healthcare needs of rural Americans. This is deeply personal for us. That’s why we are dedicated to creating supplemental health insurance policies that cover common gaps left by traditional medical insurance.
For instance, many Platinum-marketed policies include wellness benefits that cover preventative screenings and diagnostic tests, helping you get proactive about your health. The cancer, heart attack and stroke policy we sell has numerous valuable benefits, including coverage for transportation and lodging costs if you or a covered family member is diagnosed with one of these critical conditions. And, the accident policy we sell includes benefits for ambulatory care, care in an ICU and home health care. All of our policies* provide cash benefits directly to you in the event of a claim to help you with out-of-pocket expenses or whatever your greatest need may be.
For many of our customers, this added financial security has increased the likelihood they will seek the care they need. At Platinum, it’s our mission to market the best products and services to address the unique needs of the thousands of families we serve in the heartland, so you can focus on recovery—not expenses.
If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of your Platinum-marketed policy, or another policy we sell, contact our friendly, knowledgeable customer service team.
1 About Rural Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, Aug. 2). Accessed Oct. 7, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/ruralhealth/about.html.
2Rural Unintentional Injuries: They’re Not Accidents—They’re Preventable. The Rural Monitor. Rural Health Information Hub. (2017, Nov. 29). Accessed Oct. 7, 2022, from https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/rural-monitor/unintentional-injuries.
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