Preparing for the Release of the American Community Survey Data and the New Census Data Tool

This week, we are preparing for the release of the first batch of health insurance data from the 2018 American Community Survey (ACS) on September 10, 2019 via the U.S. Census Bureau’s new platform Data.Census.Gov. Typically the Census releases ACS data online in several ways: the annual Census reports on income, poverty and health insurance (see, for example, last year’s health insurance report for 2017), ACS data tables related to the reports and through its data tool (previously American Fact Finder).

As we focus our attention on the September 10 data release and begin to analyze changes and identify trends in children’s health coverage, we think it’s important to share some key details about the recent updates to the Census and its new data tool, which will affect how we access, analyze, and visualize data. Good news! There are several new functions that appear to increase capacity to access and create data visualizations through the new platform.

ACS Notes

Last year, the ACS changed the definition of children from those under age 18 (0-17 years old) to the current definition of those under age 19 (0-18 years old). We will be focusing on the comparable longitudinal ACS data updated for the current child definition, which allows for monitoring trends in child health coverage and the child uninsurance rate from 2008 to present.

The next ACS date to circle on your calendar is September 26, 2019. The Census Bureau is scheduled to release additional ACS 1-year estimate data profiles, detailed tables, and summary files. These products enable a deeper dive into demographic, socioeconomic, and regional analysis of child health coverage.

The United States Census’ Data.Census.Gov

This will be the first year that the Census will be using a new, single data tool for the entire agency. Therefore, the Census will be moving away from using American Fact Finder and will instead release all of the new ACS health insurance coverage data on Data.Census.Gov. Some benefits of the new Data.Census.Gov platform include:

  • A centralized location for data previously housed across various locations on its website;
  • Faster filters and customizable downloads through the use of chevron arrows. This allows for quick access to edit to your specifications upon your data download;
  • Added geography functionality including geo-level summaries, two paths towards selecting geography locations using the summary function or manually entering, and a toggle for geography.
  • Quicker table look-ups for grouped tables: that is, the ability to call up all related sub-tables. (For example, with Census Tables B27001A-B27001I, now you can just type in B27 and click “enter” and all the sub-tables will appear);
  • and more!

The U.S. Census has requested that users provide feedback on the new Data.Census.Gov platform as they continue to refine it. You can email the Census with your feedback at:

Helpful Census Links:

A Look Ahead

Last year, we witnessed the first increase in the child uninsurance rate since at least 2008, the first year for which comparable ACS data was available, which we wrote about in our annual children’s health insurance coverage report. Unfortunately, we are concerned that the uninsurance rate will rise again this year, especially as we have seen a large decline in the number of children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP that is not explained by economic growth.

Please stay tuned to our CCF website and Twitter feed as we will continue to share our insights as we analyze the ACS data releases. We are also gearing up for the release of our 9th annual state-by-state report on uninsured children later this fall.