Health Insurance Estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau: Background for a New Historical Series

June 01, 2007

Cheryl Hill Lee and Sharon M. Stern


The Current Population Survey (CPS) has been producing health insurance coverage estimates since 1987 as part of the Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC, previously called the March Supplement). Since then, the supplement has changed several times to accommodate changes to technology of data collection and changes to the health insurance framework. The purpose of this paper is to explain an important adjustment to the health insurance edit process that assigns private coverage to non-policy holders.

This working paper will provide detailed information to allow users to fully understand the implications of the change to the edit process. With this information users should be able to choose whether or not to use the original data as published. Section II provides some background on the CPS ASEC and describes the editing process in more detail. Section III gives specifics about the adjustment, including the variables involved, and describes the effect on the overall estimates. Section IV presents the Census Bureau’s resolution. Section V provides some illustrations of how the adjustment may impact trends in private coverage over time.