Explaining urban-rural differences in the use of skilled nursing facility benefit

Lisa Dubay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Recent closings of rural hospitals, anecdotal evidence of rural elderly persons having difficulty gaining access to health services, and the large and growing number of elderly persons living in rural areas has renewed concern about access to care for the rural elderly. In this study, 1987 Medicare skilled nursing Facility (SNF) bills were used to examine differences in urban and rural use of the SNF benefit. Using multivariate techniques, the analysis found that Medicare enrollees living in rural and large metropolitan areas used the SNF benefit at a rate 20% and 17% higher than enrollees living in small and medium-sized metropolitan areas, respectively. However, in rural areas the swing-bed program plays a major role in assuring access to the SNF benefit. Without the swing-bed program, rural enrollees would use the SNF benefit at a rate comparable to that of enrollees in small and medium-sized metropolitan areas. The importance of the swing-bed program cannot be underscored, because relative to urban enrollees, rural enrollees disproportionately live in nursing home markets that are not amenable to serving Medicare patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-127
Number of pages17
JournalMedical Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • General Nursing
  • Health(social science)
  • General Health Professions


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