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.

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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