Statewide, the primary care physician shortage is expected to grow from about 2,000 to nearly 3,400 in the next 10 years. (Jen Reel)

The Rural Health Care Crisis, Mapped

Texas is facing a rural health care crisis. How many doctors are in your county?


A version of this story ran in the November / December 2019 issue.

This story is part of “Critical Condition,” a series investigating Texas’ rural health care crisis. Read Part 1 here.

Rural Americans bear the brunt of the country’s doctor shortage—and in Texas, home to the largest rural population of any state, it’s especially acute. More than one-fifth of Texas’ 254 counties have only one doctor or none at all.

In 2018, Texas had about 54 primary care physicians per 100,000 people—one of the lowest ratios in the country, far below the national ratio of 76 per 100,000. More than a quarter of Texans live in an underserved county. As a result, many of Texas’ rural residents end up traveling hours for care—and because of this, people are dying.

Using data from the Texas Department of Health Services, we mapped the number of primary care physicians per county in Texas. The county colors range from yellow—zero physicians—to maroon and dark red, where there is a heavy concentration of doctors.  These “hot spots” are in urban areas of the state, such as Harris, Bexar, and Dallas County. Hover over a county to see how many doctors practice there.

Have you been affected by Texas’ rural health care crisis? Share your story. →

Read more from the Observer: