Survey: Rural Arizona residents are worried about healthcare access
A new survey from Northern Arizona University found that healthcare access is a big concern for Arizona’s rural residents.
More than 500 people took the survey – the majority of respondents were female and mostly Caucasian. About 70% say they live outside of Arizona’s most populous county, Maricopa.
Most respondents believe there needs to be better access to healthcare professionals in rural areas, especially when it comes to mental health and substance abuse programs. Respondents also voiced concerns about aging and eldercare, as well as wellness programs and initiatives.
Nearly 40% of respondents outside Maricopa County say finding good health care is a serious issue.
However, NAU President José Luis Cruz Rivera says the findings are worrisome, but not surprising.
"It has to do a lot with the economic development of our state and the understanding that there will be gaps as the economy of the state continues to grow unless we take some intentional action to turn things around," he said.
Eighty-two areas in the state are considered "medically underserved" with 64 of those outside of Maricopa County — that’s according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. The agency estimates only 39% of the state’s healthcare needs are currently being met.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says Arizona needs more than 650 primary care physicians to remove the federal designation of Health Professional Shortage Area.