The U.S. Census Bureau today released the most extensive estimates it has ever published on county-level demographic characteristics of people with and without health insurance coverage.
The 2005 estimates cover all states and counties across gender, age and income as well as race and Hispanic origin (for states only).
"The Small Area Health Insurance Estimates (SAHIE) provide new and important detail on how health insurance coverage varies across counties," said Lynn Blewett, director of the State Health Access Data Assistance Center in Minneapolis. "Analysts and policymakers can use this information to target outreach activities and other intervention strategies to increase coverage and access to needed health care services."
The estimates are partially funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in support of its National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. The program provides free cancer screenings to low-income, uninsured women
"We use SAHIE data to more effectively gauge the level of need for breast and cervical cancer screening in various geographic jurisdictions across the country," said Barbara Bowman, acting director of the CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control in Atlanta. "The information provided by SAHIE is important to us in program planning and management, targeting and resource allocation decisions and evaluation."
SAHIE are based on models combining data from a variety of sources, including the Annual Social and Economic Supplement of the Current Population Survey, Census 2000, the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program, the County Business Patterns data set and administrative records, such as aggregated federal tax returns and Medicaid participation records.
Currently, SAHIE are the only source for county-level estimates of health insurance coverage status. Starting next year the Census Bureau will also release such estimates from its American Community Survey. Single-year estimates will be available for all geographic areas with total populations of 65,000 or more, with three-year estimates being released in 2011 for all areas with total populations of at least 20,000. A health insurance question was added to the 2008 American Community Survey to permit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to more accurately distribute resources and better understand state and local health insurance needs.