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Keywords:

  • Uninsurance;
  • state health policy;
  • household surveys

Objective. Critically review estimates of health insurance coverage available from different sources, including the federal government, state survey initiatives, and foundation-sponsored surveys for use in state policy research.

Study Setting and Design. We review the surveys in an attempt to flesh out the current weaknesses of survey data for state policy uses. The main data sources assessed in this analysis are federal government surveys (such as the Current Population Survey's Annual Social and Economic Supplement, and the National Health Interview Survey), foundation-supported surveys (National Survey of America's Families, and the Community Tracking Survey), and state-sponsored surveys.

Principal Findings. Despite information on estimates of health insurance coverage from six federal surveys, states find the data lacking for state policy purposes. We document the need for state representative data on the uninsured and the recent history of state data collection efforts spurred in part by the Health Resources Services Administration State Planning Grant program. We assess the state estimates of uninsurance from the Current Population Survey and make recommendations for a new consolidated federal survey with better state representative data.

Conclusions. We think there are several options to consider for coordinating a federal and state data collection strategy to inform state and national policy on coverage and access.