Statistical Brief #336
Estimates of the health insurance status of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population are critical to policymakers and others concerned with access to medical care and the cost and quality of that care. Health insurance helps people get timely access to medical care and protects them against the risk of expensive and unanticipated medical events. Compared to people with health care coverage, uninsured people are less likely to visit a doctor, have a usual source of medical care, receive preventive services, or have a recommended test or prescription filled.
Timely and reliable estimates of the population's health insurance status are essential to evaluate the costs and expected impact of public policy intervention in this area, such as efforts to expand coverage or to alter the way in which private and public insurance is financed.
The Household Component of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS-HC), conducted since 1996, provides critical information for evaluating trends in the health insurance status of the population. This Statistical Brief presents estimates on the uninsured in America under age 65 for calendar years 1996 through 2009, as well as the first half of 2010. All differences between estimates discussed in the text are statistically significant at the 0.05 level unless otherwise noted.
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