The American Community Survey and Health Insurance Coverage Estimates: Possibilities and Challenges for Health Policy Researchers

Authors

  • Michael Davern,

    1. Division of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health, SHADAC—University of Minnesota, 2221 University Ave SE, Ste. 345, Minneapolis, MN 55414,
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    • Address correspondence to Michael Davern, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Division of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health, SHADAC—University of Minnesota, 2221 University Ave SE, Ste. 345, Minneapolis, MN 55414; e-mail: daver004@umn.edu. Brian C. Quinn, Ph.D., Program Officer, is with The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Princeton, NJ. Genevieve M. Kenney, Ph.D., Principal Research Associate, is with The Health Policy Center, Urban Institute, Washington, DC. Lynn A. Blewett, Ph.D., Associate Professor, is with the Division of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.

  • Brian C. Quinn,

    1. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Princeton, NJ,
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  • Genevieve M. Kenney,

    1. The Health Policy Center, Urban Institute, Washington, DC
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  • Lynn A. Blewett

    1. Division of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
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Abstract

Objective. To introduce the American Community Survey (ACS) and its measure of health insurance coverage to researchers and policy makers.

Data Sources/Study Setting. We compare the survey designs for the ACS and Current Population Survey (CPS) that measure insurance coverage.

Study Design. We describe the ACS and how it will be useful to health policy researchers.

Principal Findings. Relative to the CPS, the ACS will provide more precise state and substate estimates of health insurance coverage at a point-in-time. Yet the ACS lacks the historical data and detailed state-specific coverage categories seen in the CPS.

Conclusions. The ACS will be a critical new resource for researchers. To use the new data to the best advantage, careful research will be needed to understand its strengths and weaknesses.

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