Children's Health Insurance Patterns: A Review of the Literature. 1. National Health Interview Survey


The NHIS is the principal source of information on the health of the civilian noninstitutionalized population of the United States. The NHIS, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, is an annual cross-sectional survey of approximately 43,000 households and 106,000 persons. The survey is conducted on a rolling basis throughout the year so that one-twelfth of the annual sample is interviewed each month. The main objective of the NHIS is to monitor the health of the United States population through the collection and analysis of data on a broad range of health topics. The health insurance questions on the NHIS define uninsured as lacking health coverage in the previous month. The health insurance portion of the NHIS questionnaire is presented in Appendix C.

According to the NHIS, there was a monthly average of 11.5 million uninsured children age 0 to 17 in 1994 (NHIS 1996). This estimate is 17 percent higher than the CPS estimates, which is expected if we view the CPS as an annual estimate, or at least one covering a longer period of time than "last month."

Source Data Time Period Universe Estimate Definition Number


NHIS Correspondence (1996) National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) 1994 Children age 17 Uninsure defined as lacking coverage in previous month. Estimate is a 12 month average of survey responses. 11.5 -
Beauregard et al. (1997) 1996 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) First half of 1996 Nonelderly age 0-64 Without insurance throughout the first half of 1996. 44.5 19.2%
Children age 17 11.0 15.4%
Reschovsky et al. (1997) Community Tracking Study (CTS) Late 1996 / early 1997 Children age 18 Point-estimate 8.8 12.1%
Davis et al. (Summer 1995) Kaiser/Commonwealth Survey of Americans 2-year period from 1991 to 1993 Adults age 18-64 Without insurance at least one month 53 33%
August 1993 Point-estimate - 18%