Estimating the Number of Individuals in the U.S. Without Health Insurance. Conclusions

01/31/2005

We have presented a series of refinements to the CPS to create a consistent time series of data on insured lives from 1989 to 2003. The major differences between the unadjusted and adjusted data during this time period are in the distributions by age (children's uninsured rates are substantially lower) and by income (the proportion of the uninsured who are higher income is substantially higher). The verification adjustments find more coverage among high income persons, including those with employer sponsored insurance. Adjusting for the Medicaid undercount reduces the uninsured rate among lower income persons as well as reducing the percent of the uninsured that are at very low income levels. It also shows the number of full year uninsured to be substantially smaller than that reported by the unadjusted CPS. Trend lines, however, between the adjusted and unadjusted CPS show relatively little change over the period (with the exception of children).

Nevertheless, our methodology can be used to adjust the baseline against which future changes can be measured, and future measurements might then be on a more consistent basis. If trend begins to change dramatically, whether due to future changes in the economy, government policies, or medical technologies, we believe we have a potential tool for more accurately capturing and measuring these changes.

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