THE BLOG

Survey Data on The Uninsured

09/18/2007 06:40 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Mark Blumenthal Mark Blumenthal is the Head of Election Polling at SurveyMonkey.

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
commenter asked
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).

For the truly educated consumers who want to learn more
about the methodology behind these surveys, see the detailed descriptions on
the MEPS (here
and here),
NHIS and CPS studies posted
online.

**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.