EBRI Issue Brief

Sources of Health Insurance and Characteristics of the Uninsured: Updated Analysis of the March 2006 Current Population Survey

May 9, 2007 28  pages


Updated data: On March 23, 2007, the Census Bureau announced that it had revised its estimates for the number of people with and without health insurance after discovering a coding error that affected a small number of individuals. These individuals were coded as not having health insurance coverage when, in fact, they did have coverage. This Issue Brief updates data originally published October 2006 in EBRI Issue Brief no. 298, based on the earlier Census Bureau data, because of the subsequently corrected Census Bureau estimates of health insurance coverage.

Insurance coverage up slightly, uninsured down: Based on the new Census Bureau data, the number of individuals under age 65 with health insurance increased by 1.8 million in both 2004 and 2005. The increase in coverage was mainly due to an increase in the number of people with employment-based health benefits as a dependent. The 1.8 million additional people with health insurance coverage represents a 0.7 percentage point increase in individuals with coverage and a 0.7 percentage point decrease in individuals counted as uninsured during each year.

Small overall impact: Overall, the Census Bureau correction had a small impact on national uninsured estimates. The estimated number of individuals under age 65 without health insurance coverage was reduced from 46.1 million to 44.4 million in 2005. In percentage terms, the estimated total of individuals under age 65 without health insurance was reduced from 17.9 percent to 17.2 percent, or 0.7 percentage points. While the overall decrease in the estimated number of uninsured was slight, the correction has affected various subgroups disproportionately.

Subgroups affected most: As a result of the revisions, the uninsured population is now slightly more likely to have the following characteristics: male, Hispanic, foreign-born noncitizen, lower-income, and adult dependent (whether working or not working). Uninsured workers are now more likely to be employed in small firms, agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, construction, and service industries, and on a part-time or part-year basis. However, the overall change in the uninsured population is minor (less than 1 percentage point) and these changes in the distribution of the uninsured population are slight at best.