New data released this week from USDA’s Economic Research Service shows access to primary care physicians varies across the United States.
The number of primary care physicians per 10,000 residents is generally higher in much of the Northeast, along the West Coast, in Hawaii, and parts of the mountainous West and upper Midwest. The availability of primary care physicians per capita is generally lower in much of the Great Plains—especially the Southern Great Plains—and the Lower Mississippi Delta and Southeast. However, there are substantial variations in the availability of physicians within these regions.
For instance, in rural counties, there are fewer physicians per capita in counties adjacent to urban counties than in those farther from urban areas. USDA says this is likely because residents travel from nearby rural areas to urban doctors. The lowest rates of physicians per capita are in rural counties with an urban population of less than 2,500.