Dr. Joseph Benitez, assistant professor of the Department of Health Management and Policy at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, was recently cited by the Lexington Herald-Leader on the issue of health care consumer debt in rural Kentucky counties.
“Kentucky was the fifth poorest state in 2017, where 17 percent of residents lived at the poverty level and more than 20 percent lived below it. These financial challenges are more acute in rural areas, especially when it comes to accessing and paying for health care,” said Dr. Benitez.
“Thirty-seven of the 54 counties that make up Appalachian Kentucky were considered economically depressed in 2018, according to the Appalachian Regional Commission. Higher unemployment often means fewer people with affordable health insurance. Lessened coverage, combined with fewer health clinics, hospitals and specialists can at times force residents to seek more expensive out of network options, even for minor medical issues… the average amount of medical debt for one family across the country is $681, whereas in Appalachia, it’s $850” he continued.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on August 09