The U.S. Census Bureau released 2008 and 2009 estimates of health insurance coverage for each of the nation’s roughly 3,140 counties. Small Area Health Insurance Estimates (SAHIE) are currently the only source for estimates of health insurance coverage status for every county in the nation.
These estimates are available by sex, age groups, race and Hispanic origin (for states only), and income-to-poverty ratios relevant to the new health care reform legislation and other health programs. They enable local planners to determine, for instance, the counties in which low-income children are most likely to lack health insurance coverage. The data pertain to those under age 65.
SAHIE is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others in the health care field. CDC uses these statistics in support of its National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, providing free cancer screenings to low-income, uninsured women. The health insurance estimates help determine the level of need for breast and cervical cancer screenings in communities nationwide.
The estimates are based on statistical models combining data from a variety of sources, including the American Community Survey (ACS), Census Bureau population estimates, administrative records, such as aggregated federal tax returns and Medicaid participation records, and 2000 Census statistics.
“This is the first SAHIE release to make use of the American Community Survey,” said Census Bureau Director Robert Groves. “In the past, our statistical models were based on the Current Population Survey, which has a smaller sample. The larger ACS sample allows us to provide estimates for additional income groups.
“By combining data from many sources through statistical modeling, we can considerably enhance the precision of state and county health insurance coverage estimates,” Groves said.
Along with the data, the Census Bureau is releasing a thematic mapping tool that permits users to examine health insurance coverage by county, based on various demographic variables.
At present, SAHIE is the only source of health insurance estimates for all counties. There are no county estimates derived from the Current Population Survey. In late October, the Census Bureau will, for the first time, release health insurance coverage estimates for counties with a population of 20,000 to 65,000 from the 2008-2010 ACS. Eventually the five-year estimates from ACS will include statistics on health insurance coverage.