Medically Underserved Areas/Populations

The U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010 largely focuses on insurance coverage as a means to improve access to care. At the same time, concerns exist regarding shortages of certain services, like primary care, and for particular populations, such as rural residents.

The federally designated Medically Underserved Area (MUA) and Medically Underserved Population (MUP) are criteria used to identify areas and populations in need of improved access to health care services. MUAs include groups of census tracts with a sub-par population-to-provider ratio while MUPs may include groups of persons who face economic, cultural or linguistic barriers to health care or reside in a specific geographic area. As examples, these areas may have too few primary care providers, high infant mortality, high poverty and/or high elderly population.

The CHNA is particularly important for hospitals residing in MUAs or serving MUPs because the assessment process represents an opportunity to more fully understand the significant health and quality of life needs facing our most vulnerable community members. The I-PATH project works closely with two MUA/Ps including the metropolitan area surrounding the west side of Chicago and Maywood, Illinois and the rural populations of Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Health Resources & Services Administration provides information on MUA/Ps in your state or county.  Click here for more information on MUA/Ps