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Central Distributor SID: Description of Data Elements
This section describes how HCUP data elements are coded, restrictions on their use, their uniform values, and State-specific coding practices.
 
PL_RUCA2005 - Patient location: Rural-Urban Commuting Area (RUCA) Codes
 
Documentation Sections:
General Notes
Uniform Values
State Specific Notes
General Notes
 

Rural Urban Commuting Areas (RUCA) are assigned to ZIP Codes using population and commuting information from the Census. They form a classification scheme that distinguishes urban ZIP Codes by population size and characterizes rural ZIP Codes by their population and the strength of their association with larger urban areas. Rural ZIP Codes are differentiated by three factors; the size of their largest urban community, the proportion of that population regularly commuting to larger urban areas, and the size of the urban destinations. RUCA are defined for 2004 ZIP Codes using population and commuting information from the 2000 census.

The 33 categories defined by the full RUCA scheme must generally be aggregated in some manner to avoid excessively small cell sizes. HCUP provides two alternative data elements that have collapsed the RUCAs -- PL_RUCA10_2004 and PL_RUCA4_2004.

The use of ZIP Codes to define RUCA provides greater locational precision than other (county-based) urban-rural schemes available for the HCUP data, However, county-based measures will better maintain their accuracy over time because of the greater frequency with which ZIP Codes are added and their boundaries change. RUCA precision degrades most quickly in regions of high population growth where many new ZIP Codes may be created, because RUCA categories are not defined for new ZIP Codes.

The 2006 version of the RUCA is, in general, very similar to that of the prior, 1993 version. The most obvious difference is the addition of four new categories (4.2, 5.2, 6.1, and 10.6) and the loss of the 2.2 category. A more fundamental difference is the change in the underlying Census Bureau urban-rural definitions, which altered the urban area component of the new assignments.

RUCA were developed by collaboration between the U.S. Health Resources and Service Administration's Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, the Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, and the Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, & Idaho (WWAMI) Rural Health Research Center. Additional information about this classification scheme is available on the Internet at http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/Rural/Data/desc.htm and http://depts.washington.edu/uwruca/. For many analyses, a smaller number of categories than those provided by the full RUCA may be more appropriate. Suggested alternatives for collapsing the RUCA are provided at http://depts.washington.edu/uwruca/uses.html.

 
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Uniform Values
 
VariableDescriptionValueValue Description
PL_RUCA2005Patient location: Rural-Urban Commuting Area (RUCA) Codes1.0Metropolitan-area core: primary flow within an Urbanized Area (UA)
1.1Metropolitan area core: primary flow within an UA, Secondary flow 30% to 50% to a larger UA
2.0Metropolitan area high commuting: primary flow 30% or more to a UA
2.1Metropolitan area high commuting: primary flow 30% or more to a UA, Secondary flow 30% to 50% to a larger UA
2.2Metropolitan-area high commuting: primary flow 30% or more to a UA, combined flows to two or more UAs 30% or more and greater than primary flow
3.0Metropolitan area low commuting: primary flow 10% to 30% to a UA
4.0Micropolitan area core: primary flow within a Urban Cluster of 10,000 to 49,999 (large UC)
4.1Micropolitan area core: primary flow within an Urban Cluster of 10,000 to 49,999 (large UC), Secondary flow 30% to 50% to a UA
4.2Micropolitan area core: primary flow within an Urban Cluster of 10,000 to 49,999 (large UC), Secondary flow 10% to 30% to a UA
5.0Micropolitan high commuting: primary flow 30% or more to a large UC
5.1Micropolitan high commuting: primary flow 30% or more to a large UC, Secondary flow 30% to 50% to a UA
5.2Micropolitan high commuting: primary flow 30% or more to a large UC, Secondary flow 10% to 30% to a UA
6.0Micropolitan low commuting: primary flow 10% to 30% to a large UC
6.1Micropolitan low commuting: primary flow 10% to 30% to a large UC, Secondary flow 10% to 30% to a UA
7.0Small town core: primary flow within an Urban Cluster of 2,500 to 9,999 (small UC)
7.1Small town core: primary flow within an Urban Cluster of 2,500 to 9,999 (small UC), Secondary flow 30% to 50% to a UA
7.2Small town core: primary flow within an Urban Cluster of 2,500 to 9,999 (small UC), Secondary flow 30% to 50% to a large UC
7.3Small town core: primary flow within an Urban Cluster of 2,500 to 9,999 (small UC), Secondary flow 10% to 30% to a UA
7.4Small town core: primary flow within an Urban Cluster of 2,500 to 9,999 (small UC), Secondary flow 10% to 30% to a large UC
8.0Small town high commuting: primary flow 30% or more to a small UC
8.1Small town high commuting: primary flow 30% or more to a small UC, Secondary flow 30% to 50% to a UA
8.2Small town high commuting: primary flow 30% or more to a small UC, Secondary flow 30% to 50% to a large UC
8.3Small town high commuting: primary flow 30% or more to a small UC, Secondary flow 10% to 30% to a UA
8.4Small town high commuting: primary flow 30% or more to a small UC, Secondary flow 10% to 30% to a large UC
9.0Small town low commuting: primary flow 10% to 30% to a small UC
9.1Small town low commuting: primary flow 10% to 30% to a small UC, Secondary flow 10% to 30% to a UA
9.2Small town low commuting: primary flow 10% to 30% to a small UC, Secondary flow 10% to 30% to a large UC
10.0Rural areas: primary flow to a tract outside a UA or UC
10.1Rural areas: primary flow to a tract outside a UA or UC, Secondary flow 30% to 50% to a UA
10.2Rural areas: primary flow to a tract outside a UA or UC, Secondary flow 30% to 50% to a large UC
10.3Rural areas: primary flow to a tract outside a UA or UC, Secondary flow 30% to 50% to a small UC
10.4Rural areas: primary flow to a tract outside a UA or UC, Secondary flow 10% to 30% to a UA
10.5Rural areas: primary flow to a tract outside a UA or UC, Secondary flow 10% to 30% to a large UC
10.6Rural areas: primary flow to a tract outside a UA or UC, Secondary flow 10% to 30% to a small UC
.Missing
 
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State Specific Notes

None

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Internet Citation: HCUP Central Distributor SID Description of Data Elements - All States. Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP). August 2008. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/db/vars/siddistnote.jsp?var=pl_ruca2005.
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Last modified 8/12/08