National Rural Health Day logo

Going the extra mile to recognize rural health care resources and expand access

It takes a special kind of person to live on the frontier, especially in Wyoming. Getting by with fewer resources requires determination, skilled resource management, and community cooperation. National Rural Health Day (NRHD) on Nov. 17 showcases the unique challenges rural residents face and those who seek to overcome them.

Enroll Wyoming, a nonprofit that helps people find solutions for their health coverage needs, is celebrating the holiday, health care partners across Wyoming, and those who refer people to the group’s free assistance. Enroll Wyoming helps more people thanks to these collaborations.

The NRHD theme this year is, “Driving Change/Going the Extra Mile,” which is necessary when you have wide-open spaces and a sparse population. Government agencies call an area “frontier” if it has fewer than six people per square mile. According to the Wyoming Department of Health’s Office of Rural Health, 47 percent of Wyoming’s population lives in frontier areas, and with the exception of Cheyenne and Casper residents, the rest live in rural areas. That makes Wyoming’s health care organizations, stakeholders, and providers even more important. It also makes taking proper care of yourself more time consuming and challenging.

“Farmers, ranchers, and those in our super small communities are some of the most difficult folks to reach,” Enroll Wyoming Project Director Jason Mincer said. “We really encourage anyone in Wyoming who has questions about health insurance or would like to go through their health insurance options to reach out to us for help.”

Enroll Wyoming’s services are free as it is grant funded. It doesn’t sell health insurance or have any type of sales goals. It simply provides free help so people can identify and access resources. This is an exciting time as it is open enrollment season, which is when people can sign up for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

“With rising costs and the rurality of the state, being healthy in Wyoming can be challenging, so I want to do my part in reducing those barriers,” Enroll Wyoming Navigator Angela Thatcher said. “I hope people come see me and the other Enroll Wyoming Navigators this open enrollment season, and throughout the year, so we can help them find quality and affordable health insurance and they can get the health care they need.”

Open enrollment continues through Jan. 15, 2023. Call 211 or visit enrollwyo.org to connect with a Navigator.

For more on NRHD, visit www.powerofrural.org.