Health insurance variable?

Hi CPS team folks!

In IPUMS-CPS I find a number of summary insurance variables (e.g., whether the individual is covered by what type of private health insurance — employer-sponsored, individually purchased) such as HINSEMP and HINSPUR. These are very good variables but are only available until 2013. In another health insurance module I find another variable called “reported covered by private insurance” (PHINSUR) as well as a similar variable “COVERPI”. I assume that these variables are related to all types of private insurance (either employer-sponsored or individually purchased), is that correct? If so, is there any variables similar to HINSEMP and HINSPUR (those are in the summary module) that describe the detailed information about individuals’ private health insurance status?

A related question about private health insurance purchases — Assume that I am studying individuals who have jobs but do not buy employer-based insurance. Should I calculate the share of employed workers who purchase employer-sponsored insurance by looking at HINSEMP and EMPSTAT (employment status) in CPS data?


Yes, you are correct that both PHINSUR and COVERPI relate to health insurance coverage by either employment-based or privately-purchased coverage. Due to a re-design of the health insurance coverage questions found in the Current Population Survey, however, the SHADAC-Enhanced series of health insurance variables (which includes HINSEMP and HINSPUR) have been discontinued. As a result, IPUMS-CPS does not anticipate releasing Summary Health Insurance variables for 2014-present.

Finally, the universe for each of these variables (e.g., HINSEMP, HINSPUR, PHINSUR, and COVERPI) is “all persons.” So, who you are studying with these variables is the entire US population. However, each of the health insurance variables are designed to identify a specific type of health insurance coverage. Although I am not exactly sure what your research objectives are here, I do want to highlight the following: “The term “covered by private insurance” in the direct question posed to respondents is ambiguous; coverage might mean either being a private insurance policyholder or having coverage as a dependent via someone else’s private insurance policy. Because some respondents interpreted the question in the former, narrower sense, the identification of persons covered by private insurance (either as policyholders or as dependents) via the Bureau’s allocation program in COVERPI is more complete than the private health insurance coverage reported in PHINSUR.”