Less Specialist Care Could Mean More Hospitalizations and Higher Mortality, Study Finds

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A recent report in Health Affairs provides a sobering reminder of the importance of specialty medical care in improving health outcomes (1). The study of 11,581 rural and urban Medicare beneficiaries with one or more complex chronic conditions found that living in rural areas with fewer opportunities for seeing a specialist was associated with a 40% higher rate of preventable hospitalizations and a 23% higher rate of death compared to living in urban areas.

Preventable hospitalization rates per 100 beneficiaries ranged from 14.9 in rural areas to 10.6 in metropolitan areas in the study, while annual