Economic effects of the outmigration of obstetric services in a rural county

J Rural Health. 1996 Spring;12(2):100-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-0361.1996.tb00781.x.


Obstetrical health care resources have been declining in rural areas since 1980, resulting in reduced prenatal care that can result in higher medical costs. Loss of health care services is known to have negative economic consequences for rural communities. This article illustrates how hospitals and other providers of medical services can be used as vehicles for local economic development. Provision of medical services is an important component of the economic base of all communities and especially of small rural communities with hospitals. When a community loses medical services to another community, it loses both direct and indirect economic benefits. The research presented here analyzes the economic effects of outmigration of obstetric services from a rural "perimeter" community in Wyoming. The combined direct and indirect economic losses are shown to be significant. Annual revenue losses to the local hospital were estimated as high as 12 percent. It is important to make explicit the economic losses that result from reductions in health care. Such research, combined with knowledge of negative health and social factors can provide community leaders with additional motivation to find solutions to declining health care in rural areas.

MeSH terms

  • Birth Rate
  • Catchment Area, Health / economics*
  • Community Health Planning
  • Female
  • Health Services Research
  • Hospitals, Rural
  • Humans
  • Models, Economic
  • Obstetrics / economics*
  • Obstetrics / organization & administration
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Professional Practice Location / economics
  • Professional Practice Location / trends*
  • Rural Health Services / economics
  • Rural Health Services / supply & distribution*
  • Wyoming / epidemiology