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Informing Policy. Advancing Health.

New Census Bureau Uninsured Estimates, Part 1: The Current Population Survey

New estimates of uninsured Coloradans are big news at CHI. Today marked the first in a series of two data releases from the U.S. Census Bureau this month: findings from the 2011 Current Population Survey (the CPS) are hot-off-the-(electronic)-press. We learned about what the CPS can tell us about income, poverty, and health insurance coverage in the United States.

On the national level, the number of Americans without health insurance dropped from 50 million in 2010 to 48.6 million in 2011. The uninsured rate dropped from 16.3 percent to 15.7 percent.

In Colorado, however, the story is a bit different: according to the CPS, our uninsured rate increased from 12.9 percent in 2010 to 15.7 percent in 2011. In fact, Colorado is one of just two states that recorded a statistically significant increase in the uninsured rate between 2010 and 2011. For the graphically-inclined, our friends at SHADAC created this handy map that summarizes the change in uninsurance rates across all 50 states.

Note that the 2011 CPS uninsured rate aligns with the 2011 Colorado Health Access Survey (CHAS), which estimated that 15.8 percent of the state’s population was uninsured.

One of the great things about the CPS is that because it’s been around for awhile, we can use it to analyze historical trends. Over the last decade, the percentage of Coloradans with health insurance has remained relatively stable, at approximately 85 percent. However, the type of coverage has changed a bit during this time: the percentage of Coloradans with private coverage has declined, while the percentage with public coverage has increased. Take a look at this graph for more details.

For more information about today’s CPS release, check out CHI’s fact sheet.

Next Thursday, September 20, the Census Bureau will release findings from the 2011 American Community Survey. Stay tuned to Analysis with Altitude for a blog and fact sheet on the highlights.