Transitions in Health Insurance Coverage

MEPS Statistical Brief No. 467

Estimates of the health insurance status of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population are critical to policymakers and others concerned with access to medical care and the cost and quality of that care. Health insurance helps people get timely access to medical care and protects them against the risk of expensive and unanticipated medical events. Studies of the changes in the health insurance coverage status of the population over time are often based upon cross-sectional information. To complement these investigations, it is important to understand the dynamics of the changes in coverage status for the same individuals over time.

Transitions in Health Insurance Coverage, a statistical brief from the Household Component of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS-HC), provides detailed estimates of health insurance coverage transitions for non-elderly adults between the ages of 18 to 64 for the 2-year intervals between 2012–2013 and 2013–2014.

More specifically, the health insurance coverage status for the adult population under age 65 in the first part of 2013 and 2014 is examined, conditioned on the health insurance coverage status for the comparable period in the previous year. Survey participants were asked whether they had coverage at some point between January 1 and the date of the MEPS interview; individuals classified as being uninsured had no health insurance coverage, as defined in MEPS, for the entire time between January 1 and the date of the interview, while people who were classified as insured had coverage for at least some period of time during this interval.

Highlights:

  • Between the first part of 2013 and the first part of 2014, 30.2 percent of non-elderly adults who were uninsured gained coverage. This represents a higher rate of acquiring coverage than for similar time periods in 2012 and 2013 (24.6 percent).
  • Overall, there was no significant decrease in the likelihood that insured adults lost coverage (5.5 percent between the first part of 2013 and the first part of 2014 and 6.0 percent for similar time periods in 2012 and 2013).
  • Non-elderly adult Hispanics who had insurance in the first part of 2013 were less likely to lose coverage in 2014 than insured adult Hispanics in the previous period (8.8 percent in 2014 versus 12.1 percent in the 2012 to 2013 period). In addition, adult Hispanics who were uninsured in 2013 were more likely to gain insurance in 2014 (21.4 percent) compared to uninsured adult Hispanics in 2012 (15.8 percent).
  • Non-elderly uninsured adults who were in good and less than good (fair or poor) health status in the first part of 2013 were substantially more likely to gain coverage in 2014 (28.6 percent for good and 28.9 percent for fair or poor health status) than their counterparts in the period from 2012 to 2013 (19.4 percent for those in good health and 20.9 percent for those in fair/poor health).
  • Non-elderly adults uninsured in the first part of 2013 with 13 or more years of education were more likely to gain coverage in the first part of 2014 (36.5 percent) than their counterparts in the previous period (29.1 percent).

Select to access Transitions in Health Insurance Coverage Over Time, 2012-2014.

Page last reviewed February 2015
Internet Citation: Transitions in Health Insurance Coverage: MEPS Statistical Brief No. 467. February 2015. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/meps1.html