The Problem of California Health Care Insurance in Rural Areas

by John Hansen

Assemblyman Jim Wood Comments on the Trouble of Providing Health Care in Remote Areas

I questioned Assemblyman Jim Wood (Democrat) on May 17 regarding the difficulties of providing quality California health care insurance and provider options for rural areas. Wood is from the 2nd District, so he knows what rural is all about. He is also currently the head of the California State Assembly Health Committee. He is a strong advocate for improved health insurance for California rural areas.

2nd District Includes Large Rural Areas

Wood commented, “In my district, it takes 6 hours to drive from one end to another, to get from Sacramento to Arcata, so transportation is a challenge. The problem is that the rural areas are not attracting enough physicians. People go where they can pay off education debt.” He added that we need programs to pay off school debt for physicians who are willing to commit to practicing in more remote areas.

Difficulty Attracting Doctors and Other Medical Professionals

He added that living in rural areas is not attractive to many people. “The lifestyle in the rural community is not for all. We don’t have a Nordstrom in my district, and we only have one Macy’s.” So it is not surprising that more regions are having difficulty attracting enough physicians and California health care insurance professionals.

Jim Wood is one of few Democrats in California who represents a rural district. The more remote areas tend to elect Republicans, even in California.

Rural Areas Get Short End of the Stick

Wood added, “Rural areas get disproportionate services in everything.” One broad band company said that they didn’t think it was worth it to expand north in the more rural areas of California. Wood quipped, “Then, we’ll stop sending you water.”

He said that even after-school funding gets swallowed up by bigger districts like LA unified school district and San Francisco. He concluded, “If we could get just our share [of the resources], we’d do well.” When it comes to California health care insurance, if these rural areas could get more attention from leaders at the State Capitol, likely things would improve.



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