Rural versus Urban: FAIR Health Comparative Analytics

July 21, 2022

FAIR Health evaluates its data through a variety of geographic lenses, such as by geozips (which tend to track with the first three digits of a zip code), state and US census region. One such lens of particular value is the comparison between rural and urban areas. In recent years, FAIR Health has made rural/urban comparative analytics central to a number of reports and presentations.

Venues of Care
In its annual white paper FH® Healthcare Indicators and FH® Medical Price Index, FAIR Health reports on various aspects of place of service trends, including rural versus urban areas. For example, in the 2022 edition, FAIR Health reported that the normalized share of claim lines for retail clinics grew in urban areas 45.9 percent from 2015 to 2020, but declined in rural areas 33.6 percent in the same period.

Dental Services
FAIR Health also has studied comparisons associated with dental services between rural and urban populations of older adults. For example, in a recent study, FAIR Health uncovered that in rural areas, patients 65 and older had more tooth extractions in the period 2009 to 2019 than in urban areas, and the decline in tooth extractions among patients 65 and older was greater in urban areas (30 percent) than rural areas (19 percent).

In 2020, FAIR Health’s Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker, which monitors the month-by-month evolution of telehealth, included among its measures a comparison between rural and urban telehealth utilization. From March to December 2020, telehealth utilization was higher in urban areas than rural areas nationally and in all four US census regions. For example, in June 2020 nationally, telehealth captured 7.29 percent of medical claim lines in urban areas but only 3.45 percent in rural areas.

Lyme Disease
In a December 2019 white paper, Trends and Patterns in Lyme Disease: An Analysis of Private Claims Data, FAIR Health applied rural/urban comparative analytics to the study of Lyme disease. The report found that the growth in Lyme disease claim lines from 2007 to 2018 was more pronounced in urban than rural areas. In urban areas, the increase was 121 percent (from 0.027 percent of all medical claim lines in 2007 to 0.061 percent in 2018). In rural areas, the increase was 105 percent (from 0.018 percent of all medical claim lines in 2007 to 0.037 percent in 2018).

Possibilities for Other Analytics
FAIR Health data afford possibilities for numerous other types of analytics using rural/urban comparisons. For example, FAIR Health can study differences in rural versus urban areas in access to care and use of care, quality of care and outcomes, chronic condition rates and environmental impacts on health.

For more information about FAIR Health custom analytics, including those making rural/urban comparisons, contact us by email at or call us at 855-301-3247, Monday through Friday, 9 am to 6 pm ET.