Saturday, August 04, 2012

How Many Are Uninsured?

Figuring out how many Americans are not covered by health insurance is harder than you might think. The answer depends on the time frame. The most commonly used estimate of the nation's uninsured, for example, comes from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. Every March, the CPS fields the Annual Social and Economic Supplement, which asks respondents for their health insurance status in the previous year. The CPS counts as uninsured only those who did not have health insurance for the entire previous calendar year. By that definition, 18.4 percent of Americans under age 65 were uninsured in 2010.

Other surveys measure the uninsured in different time frames. The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, for example, estimates the number who were uninsured at any time during the previous calendar year. Naturally, that estimate is higher: 26.0 percent of people under age 65 were uninsured at some point in 2010.

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