State Level Data Now Available on a Census Website Near You

By Tara Mancini

Say Ahhh! readers will recall that just last week the Census Bureau released the 2010 estimates for the Current Population Survey (CPS).  As the official source for poverty statistics in the United States, the 2010 CPS detailed the drastic rise of poverty and the continued decline of median household income. While the CPS showed an increase in the number of people who were uninsured, the rate was not statistically significant from the 2009 data.

This morning, the Census Bureau released estimates for the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS), which provides detailed state-level data based on the 2010 calendar year, including health insurance coverage.

For children under 18 years of age, almost 6 million children (8%) were reported to be without any type of public or employer-based health insurance.  Children in families under 50% FPL were uninsured at a higher rate of 10 percent.

Of those children with health insurance coverage, 63.7 million (86%) were reported to have at least one form of coverage, while 4.3 million (5.8%) were reported to have two or more types of health insurance.  For those children with only one form of health care coverage, employer-based insurance accounted for just over 35 million insured children (55%), while Medicaid and CHIP covered a little more than 23.6 million (37%) children.  The states with the lowest and highest rates of uninsured children remain the same; children in Massachusetts continued to be uninsured at a rate of 1.5% while children in Nevada were uninsured at an astounding rate of 17.4%.

The ACS national estimates of uninsured children are not too far off from those produced by the CPS (9.8%).  One reason for this slight difference in estimates may be the way in which respondents are asked about health insurance coverage.  The ACS asks if someone has coverage at the time of the survey, while the CPS asks respondents to recall insurance coverage in months prior to the survey. For more details on how these surveys differ, check out this helpful fact sheet.

One of the advantages of the ACS is its large sample size relative to the CPS.  As a result, its one-year estimates produce very reliable estimates for geographical areas with populations of 65,000 or more, making it the Census Bureau’s (and our) recommended source for those trying to obtain state level data on health insurance.  This is especially important for states with small populations and for looking at sub-groups (such as low-income children) within a state.  We will be following this blog with a more detailed fact sheet on state health insurance coverage for children.  In the meantime, you can begin to find data for your state here.  Select the tables that interest you, and then narrow down the geographic region by using the “Geographies” tab in the left side bar. (You can find a tutorial here.

For those looking for more information on health insurance coverage for adults, the Census Bureau released a brief today accompanying the ACS.