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Robert Longley

Census Adds Health Insurance Status to Community Survey

By September 24, 2009

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The U.S. Census Bureau has released the latest data from its American Communities Survey (ACS), including -- for the first time ever – data on the nationwide lack of health insurance.

According to the Census Bureau, the least-insured state in the nation is Texas, where one-in-four people (24.1 percent) lacked health insurance in 2008. Massachusetts reported the highest rate of coverage, with fewer than one-in-twenty (4.1 percent) people going uninsured. The rate of uninsured children ranged from 2.1 percent in Massachusetts to 20.2 percent in Nevada.

Why the first-ever inclusion of a health insurance question? The Census Bureau states, “Every question on the ACS is included either because the data are required to satisfy one or more federal laws, regulations or court decisions, or are needed to manage federal programs and allocate more than $400 billion of federal tax dollars annually to states and local communities.”

Health insurance was one of three new topics included in the 2008 ACS questionnaire. Also added were questions on marital status and VA service-connected disability status.

A few non-health insurance-related highlights from the 2008 ACS included:

  • Income: The U.S. median household income in 2008 ranged from a median of $70,545 for Maryland to $37,790 for Mississippi.
  • Citizenship and Year of Naturalization: The total foreign-born population represented 12.5 percent of the population in 2008, compared to 12.6 percent in 2007. In 2008, there were about 21.6 million non-citizens, compared with 21.9 million non-citizens in 2007. The percentage of naturalized citizens increased, from 42.5 percent in 2007 to 43.0 percent in 2008.
  • Marriage: The percentage of women 15 and over who have never married was 28.1 percent in 2008, up from 27.6 percent in 2007 and 27.3 percent in 2006.
  • Commute to Work: The percentage of workers who drove alone to work decreased slightly between 2007 and 2008 — from 76.1 percent in 2007 to 75.5 percent in 2008. The percentage of commuters using public transportation increased slightly between 2007 and 2008, from 4.9 percent to 5.0 percent.
  • Housing: California homeowners with mortgages had the highest monthly median housing costs in the nation at $2,384. New Jersey had the second highest median housing cost at $2,360 per month.

The American Communities Survey (ACS) sends questionnaires to approximately 3 million addresses every year and covers more than 40 topics such as income, educational attainment, housing and family structure. Just like the regular decennial census, responses to the ACS are required by law and held strictly confidential.

Also See:
Census Shows Number of Uninsured, Poverty Rate Both Climb (2004)
Gender Wage Gap Widening, Census Data Shows (2004)
What Does a Census Taker Do?

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October 5, 2009 at 1:00 pm
(1) Charles Myers says:

When I receive the Census Questionaire, I will check it with the Constitution. If the Constitution does not require the information requested, I will not provide it.

October 5, 2009 at 1:22 pm
(2) Robert says:

Charles — As to the census, the Constitution states, “The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.” (Art. 2, Sec. 2, clause 3)

Notice that no questions are listed. The “as they shall by Law direct” part pretty much leaves determining what questions will be asked up to the Census Bureau, with oversight from Congress.

My article at http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/censusandstatistics/a/census2010.htm contains a link to a sample of the questionnaire. You can read the 10 questions there.


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