Over 100 rural hospitals have closed since 2013, resulting in patients traveling a median 20 miles farther for health care services, according to a report released today by the Government Accountability Office.
For less common hospital services, the median distance increased much more, GAO found. For 11 closed hospitals that offered treatment services for alcohol or drug abuse, for example, the median additional distance to access these services was 39 miles.
Counties with closures also generally had fewer physicians and other health care professionals per 100,000 residents than did counties without closures and their Medicare beneficiaries were less healthy, GAO said. For hospitals that closed between 2014 and 2017, the median total facility margin fell to -13.8% in the year before closure. The share of all rural hospitals at high risk of financial distress has increased in the past five years, the report notes.