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Health Insurance Glossary

The glossary below may define terms not included in the main Glossary on Census.gov

The main Glossary on Census.gov provides official definitions covering all topics, censuses, surveys and programs.

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Current Population Survey (CPS) Health Insurance Definitions

The Census Bureau collects data about different types of health insurance coverage and broadly classifies the types into either Private coverage or Public coverage.

Private Health Insurance

Private health insurance is coverage by a health plan provided through an employer or union, purchased by an individual from a private health insurance company, or coverage through TRICARE.

Employment-based Health Insurance

A coverage offered through one's own employment or a relative's. It may be offered by an employer or by a union.

Own Employment-based Health Insurance

A coverage offered through one's own employment and only the policyholder is covered by the plan.

Direct-purchase Health Insurance

A coverage through a plan purchased by an individual from a private company or through an exchange. Exchange plans include coverage purchased through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace as well as other state-based marketplaces and include both subsidized and unsubsidized plans.

TRICARE

TRICARE is a military health care program for active duty and retired members of the uniformed services, their families, and survivors.

Public Health Insurance

Public health insurance includes plans funded by governments at the federal, state, or local level. The major categories of public health insurance are Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), CHAMPVA or VA coverage, State-specific plans and Indian Health Service (IHS).

Medicare

A Federal program which helps pay health care costs for people 65 and older and for certain people under 65 with long-term disabilities.

Medicaid

A program administered at the state level, which provides medical assistance to the needy. Families with dependent children, the aged, blind, and disabled who are in financial need may be eligible for Medicaid. It may be known by different names in different states.

CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program

A program administered at the state level, providing health care to low-income children who do not qualify for Medicaid. CHIP may be known by different names in different states. The CHIP program may also be known by its former name, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

CHAMPVA or VA coverage 
  • CHAMPVA is a medical program through which the Department of Veterans Affairs helps pay the cost of medical services for eligible veterans, veteran's dependents, and survivors of veterans.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs provides medical assistance to eligible veterans of the Armed Forces.

State-specific Plans

Some states have their own health insurance programs for low-income uninsured individuals. These health plans may be known by different names in different states.

Indian Health Service (IHS)

A health care program through which the Department of Health and Human Services provides medical assistance to eligible American Indians at IHS facilities. In addition, the IHS helps pay the cost of selected health care services provided at non-IHS facilities. If someone only reports having IHS coverage and no other type of health insurance, they are considered uninsured.

*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.

American Community Survey (ACS) Health Insurance Definitions

The Census Bureau collects data about different types of health insurance coverage and broadly classifies the types into either private health insurance or public coverage.

Private Health Insurance

Private health insurance is a plan provided through an employer or union; a plan purchased by an individual from an insurance company; or TRICARE or other military health coverage.

Employer-based Health Insurance

A coverage offered through one's own employment or a relative's. It may be offered by an employer or by a union.

Direct-purchase Health Insurance

Is purchased directly from an insurance company by an individual or an individual's relative.

Own Employment-based Health Insurance

A coverage offered through one's own employment and only the policyholder is covered by the plan.

TRICARE

TRICARE is a military health care program for active duty and retired members of the uniformed services, their families, and survivors.

Public Coverage

Public coverage includes the federal programs Medicare, Medicaid and other medical assistance programs, VA and CHAMPVA Health Care; the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); and individual state health plans.

Medicare

A Federal program which helps pay health care costs for people 65 and older and for certain people under 65 with long-term disabilities.

Means-tested Health Care:

Medicaid or Medical Assistance

Any kind of government-assistance plan for those with low incomes or a disability.

CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program

A state-level program providing health care to low-income children whose parents do not qualify for Medicaid.*

State-specific Plans

Some states have their own health insurance programs for low-income, or for high-risk, uninsured individuals. These health plans may be known by different names in different states.*

VA Health Care

A Department of Veterans Affairs program that provides medical assistance to eligible veterans. (see User Note

CHAMPVA

CHAMPVA is a medical program through which the Department of Veterans Affairs helps pay the cost of medical services for eligible veterans, veteran's dependents, and survivors of veterans.

* The ACS questionnaire does not specifically ask about these types of coverage, but respondents who indicate these types of coverage are counted as having public coverage.

** People whose only health coverage is Indian Health Service are uninsured as IHS is not considered comprehensive coverage.

Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) Health Insurance Definitions

The Census Bureau collects data about different types of health insurance coverage and broadly classifies the types into either Private coverage or Public coverage.

Private Health Insurance

Private health insurance is coverage by a health plan provided through an employer or union, purchased by an individual from a private health insurance company, or coverage through TRICARE.

Employment-based Health Insurance

A coverage offered through one's own employment or a relative's. It may be offered by an employer or by a union.

Own Employment-based Health Insurance

A coverage offered through one's own employment and only the policyholder is covered by the plan.

Direct-purchase Health Insurance

A coverage through a plan purchased by an individual from a private company or through an exchange. Exchange plans include coverage purchased through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace as well as other state-based marketplaces and include both subsidized and unsubsidized plans.

TRICARE

TRICARE is a military health care program for active duty and retired members of the uniformed services, their families, and survivors.

Public Health Insurance

Public health insurance includes plans funded by governments at the federal, state, or local level. The major categories of public health insurance are Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's public Insurance Program (CHIP), CHAMPVA or VA coverage, State-specific plans and Indian Health Service (IHS).

Medicare

A Federal program which helps pay health care costs for people 65 and older and for certain people under 65 with long-term disabilities.

Medicaid

A program administered at the state level, which provides medical assistance to the needy. Families with dependent children, the aged, blind, and disabled who are in financial need may be eligible for Medicaid. It may be known by different names in different states.

CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program

A program administered at the state level, providing health care to low-income children who do not qualify for Medicaid. CHIP may be known by different names in different states. The CHIP program may also be known by its former name, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

CHAMPVA or VA coverage 
  • CHAMPVA is a medical program through which the Department of Veterans Affairs helps pay the cost of medical services for eligible veterans, veteran's dependents, and survivors of veterans.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs provides medical assistance to eligible veterans of the Armed Forces.

State-specific Plans

Some states have their own health insurance programs for low-income uninsured individuals. These health plans may be known by different names in different states.

Indian Health Service (IHS)

A health care program through which the Department of Health and Human Services provides medical assistance to eligible American Indians at IHS facilities. In addition, the IHS helps pay the cost of selected health care services provided at non-IHS facilities. If someone only reports having IHS coverage and no other type of health insurance, they are considered uninsured.

People whose only health coverage was Indian Health Service were considered uninsured.

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