Beginning in 2008, estimates on the number of Americans with health insurance have been available from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). While several federal surveys look at health insurance statistics, ACS’ large sample size allows researchers to analyze health insurance patterns within and across states at a much more detailed level than was previously possible.
Experts at the University of Minnesota’s State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) analyzed the 2008 ACS data and found significant variations, both within and across states by age, race/ethnicity and family income. Nationally, older children were more likely to be uninsured, white children were much more likely than non-white or Hispanic children to be insured, and children in the lowest income group were significantly more likely to be uninsured. Yet these patterns did not hold true for all states, even after controlling for employment status, industry and education level of parents.
Though there remain significant variations in the rates of children who have health insurance coverage, continued progress has been made ever since the passage of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in 1997. These annually available ACS data—which allow for a particularly robust analysis—should prove informative as a way to continue to monitor progress in insuring America’s children.