With the release yesterday of a new health care plan from
Sen. Hillary Clinton and the ensuing debate over the respective plans of the
other candidates, many blog readers are looking for the source of statistics on
the uninsured. As a Swampland
Time's Karen Tumulty, "Who are the
[50 million] uninsured, and where does that number come from?" The answers, not
surprisingly, come from surveys and, in this case, very high quality surveys
conducted by the federal government.
For those looking to dig into the data, here are three
places to start:
- As Tumulty notes, the Kaiser Family Foundation published a report a year ago that summarizes data on the size of the uninsured population and its demographics from the three government studies cited below
- The Wall Street Journal's Carl Bialik digs into the numbers behind the Clinton plan, and includes a link to the Census Bureau report (based on data from the Current Population Study).
- My most reliable source on health care issues (a physician and health policy expert we'll just call the "Pollster-spouse") highly recommends the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS -- their reports on the uninsured are available here).
- Finally, see also the report on Health Insurance Coverage released last month by the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).**
**Regular readers will recall that NHIS also includes
questions on cell phone usage that have become vital to all survey researchers
concerned about the growth of cell-phone-only
households that are out of reach of most telephone surveys.