Rural Health and the Economy

Rural Health Today

Economic Development

In rural communities, health care and the overall vitality of the community is intrinsically linked. A robust community supports and sustains quality health services for its residents by attracting highly trained and committed health care professionals. Communities with strong economies may be more likely to financially support their health care system through higher rates of health insurance coverage, philanthropic giving, and by investing in infrastructure that can be leveraged by the healthcare system. In return, a high-quality healthcare system can support economic and community development initiatives

Rural hospitals often serve as a community’s largest employer — offering some of the highest paying jobs and attracting professionals to live in and invest in the area.

A 2016 study by the National Center for Rural Health Works estimates that a rural primary care provider can generate more than $1.4 million in wages, salaries and benefits, while adding 26.3 jobs on average through a hospital. 

The same report indicates that, on average, every job generated by a critical access hospital creates an additional .34 jobs within other businesses and industries within the local economy. Critical access hospitals also generate an average of $1.8 million in taxable retail sales in a rural community. 

A 2017 study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that inpatient health care facilities were responsible for 1.25 million jobs — or 8.5% of all employment in rural communities in 2011.