A new report from UnitedHealth Group's Center for Health Reform and Modernization examines how health care reform, particularly expansion of insurance coverage through Medicaid and government-subsidized benefit plans, will put considerable stress on rural primary care providers.

The use of telemedicine via higher access to broadband connectivity, however, could ease the strain on rural facilities, according to the report. Authors recommend expanding broadband to support accelerated growth of telemedicine and home-based telehealth applications, aligning and improving reimbursement strategies across health insurers to encourage greater use of telemedicine, raising consumer comfort levels with the technologies, and removal of regulatory barriers to use of telemedicine.

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