Living in a thinly populated area has its advantages but also some disadvantages — such as not having a doctor within 40 miles.

The Austin American-Statesman puts some numbers on something I’ve read of before, which is the fact that some Texas counties don’t have a resident doctor. How many? Try 27.

Some of the problems lie in the lack of opportunities: "A lot of people aren’t looking to live where there’s no movie theaters, a limited number of churches, no choices in schools." Being the only doctor in an area also makes it hard to take a day off.

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Tort reform has helped some, by making medical malpractice insurance not so expensive. The Texas Public Policy Foundation reminds us, however, that government payment schemes (remember, Medicare is the single-largest payer of health care in this country) distort the supply of doctors. It also says that restrictions on the supply of nurse practitioners don’t help matters.

Cross-posted from State House Call.

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