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Demonstrating the Effectiveness of Small Area Estimates During Periods of Change: The Case of Health Insurance Coverage

Working Paper Number SEHSD-WP2017-16
Lauren Bowers


Understanding changes in the composition of health insurance coverage across the United States is important for many local communities. Currently, detailed survey estimates of health insurance coverage for counties with small populations are available as multi-year estimates from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). These multi-year estimates are period in time estimates and do not reflect an annual estimate; therefore, the estimates do not reflect annual changes.

However, the Census Bureau’s Small Area Health Insurance Estimates (SAHIE) program models 1-year ACS estimates using administrative records to provide health insurance coverage estimates for every county in the United States on an annual basis. This research analyzes how ACS 5-year survey estimates compare with the single-year modeled estimates. The purpose of this analysis is to demonstrate how Small Area Estimation can be a powerful tool during periods of rapid change.


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