Understanding the Census Bureau’s Upcoming Health Insurance Coverage Estimates

The Census Bureau will release estimates on September 16 of the number and share of Americans without health coverage in 2013, based on its annual Current Population Survey (CPS).  While the CPS is the most widely used source of health coverage information, significant changes in its health coverage questions instituted for 2013 — the result of a multi-year Census initiative to improve the reliability and accuracy of the survey’s health coverage estimates — mean that the 2013 results cannot be compared to those for prior years.  Moreover, because the CPS estimates are for 2013, they will not show the effects of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) major coverage expansions, implemented starting in January 2014. 

Analysts and policymakers should therefore look to other available data sources as well, including other federal and private surveys. 


House Bill Would Raise Small Business Premiums and Undercut Health Reform’s Consumer Protections

The House has passed legislation sponsored by Rep. William Cassidy (R-LA) that would allow insurance companies, through 2018, to continue to offer to any small employer the health insurance plans in the small group market that the insurers were selling in 2013. Under the bill, such plans would not have to comply with the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) market reforms and consumer protections that otherwise apply to all health insurance plans offered in the small group market, starting in 2014.

The bill would likely have serious adverse effects both on premiums in the small group market — causing them to rise substantially for many small firms — and on health reform’s consumer protections, such as the reform that prevents insurance companies from charging higher premiums to firms with older, less healthy workforces.

Related: Landrieu-Manchin Bill Would Raise Premiums and Threaten Viability of Insurance Marketplaces


New Research Shows Limits of Risk Adjustment in Protecting Traditional Medicare under Premium Support

Proposals to convert Medicare to a “premium support” system would replace its guarantee of health coverage with a flat payment, or voucher, that beneficiaries would use to purchase either private health insurance or, in some versions, a form of traditional fee-for-service Medicare. Proponents of premium support argue that traditional Medicare would remain a viable option for beneficiaries under proposals that retain it. That, however, is unlikely to be the case over the long run as findings from new analyses from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) and researchers at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) indicate.

Related: Medicare in Ryan's 2015 Budget



Medicaid is a federal-state public insurance program that provides health coverage to nearly 65 million low-income Americans, including children, parents, seniors, and people with disabilities. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) gives states matching federal funds to provide health coverage to nearly 8 million children in families whose income is modestly above Medicaid limits, typically up to 200 percent of the poverty line. Medicare is a federal program that provides health coverage to about 47 million Americans, primarily individuals age 65 and older but also including several million younger adults with permanent disabilities. The Affordable Care Act, the health reform law passed in 2010, will help an estimated 32 million uninsured Americans obtain quality, affordable health coverage in both the private and public markets.

Policy Basics:
- Introduction to Medicaid

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The Center works to ensure that federal and state health insurance programs provide coverage that meets the health care needs of low-income children and families, as well as seniors and people with disabilities.  The Center also works to remove barriers preventing eligible families from gaining access to health coverage.

By the Numbers

Rate of Uninsured Fell Again in 2012
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