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The Census Bureau collects data about different types of health insurance coverage and broadly classifies the types into either Private (non-government) coverage or Government-sponsored coverage.
Private health insurance is coverage by a health plan provided through an employer or union or purchased by an individual from a private health insurance company.
Government health insurance includes plans funded by governments at the federal, state, or local level. The major categories of government health insurance are medicare, medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), military health care, state plans, and the Indian Health Service.
Note: The CPS and ACS classify military-sponsored TRICARE differently. The CPS categorizes TRICARE as public (government) health insurance, whereas the ACS classifies TRICARE as private health insurance coverage.
The CPS categorizes TRICARE, CHAMPVA and VA Health Care into a single "military health care" variable. The data do not distinguish between coverage for active-duty, retired and Veteran members. In addition, the CPS does not sample the active-duty military population, which reduces TRICARE's significance as a form of military, employer-based health insurance coverage (except for active-duty military spouses and dependents).
The ACS, however, contains separate variables for TRICARE (coverage primarily for active-duty military and retirees) and VA Health Care (for eligible Veterans), and thus can categorize TRICARE as employer-based health insurance coverage. In addition, unlike the CPS, the ACS collects data on the active-duty military population. It is for these reasons the ACS considers TRICARE employer-based (private) health insurance, and the CPS categorizes TRICARE as government (public) coverage.
*After consulting with health insurance experts, the Census Bureau modified the definition of the population without health insurance in the Supplement to the March 1998 Current Population Survey, which collected data about coverage in 1997. Previously, people with no coverage other than access to the Indian Health Service were counted as part of the insured population. Subsequently, the Census Bureau has counted these people as uninsured. The effect of this change on the overall estimates of health insurance coverage was negligible.