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Rural residents confront higher health care costs

DENVER – Bill Fales wants a new baler and a better irrigation system for the 700-acre ranch where he raises grass-fed beef cattle, but after seeing his new health insurance premiums, those plans have been set aside.

His Cold Mountain Ranch is in western Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, a rural area where outpatient services are twice as expensive as the state average. Fales recently saw his monthly premiums jump 50 percent.

Health care has always been more expensive in far-flung communities, where data show fewer doctors, specialists and hospitals, as well as older residents in need of more health care services. But the rural-urban cost divide has been exacerbated by the Affordable Care Act.

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