Making Sense of the Census Uninsured Numbers

The Alliance for Health Reform and the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Commission and Medicaid and the Uninsured discuss the Census uninsured numbers.

The Census Bureau announced that the number of people without health insurance dropped from 50 million to 48.6 million in 2011, marking the first decrease since 2007. That information came from the Current Population Survey, but it isn’t the only data that Census is releasing on the uninsured.

The Bureau is preparing a second report that it will announce September 20 — based on the American Community Survey – that will offer a more local view of insurance coverage. It will go beyond state data to examine recent trends in cities, many counties, and in congressional districts. This survey is much larger, and can be used to examine sub-state data and smaller demographic subgroups.

How are various demographic groups faring when it comes to insurance coverage? Specific geographic areas? What are the trends moving forward?

Presentations from the speakers and many other downloadable resources on this topic are available, along with an expert source list, at

Full Video



Lynn Blewett, director, State Health Access Data Assistance Center, University of Minnesota

Peter Cunningham, senior fellow, Center for Studying Health System Change

Rachel Garfield, associate director, Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured

Ed Howard, executive vice president, Alliance for Health Reform, moderated.

More About the Speakers:

LYNN BLEWETT is the founding director of the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) at the University of Minnesota, an initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to conduct research and policy analysis on the factors affecting health insurance coverage and to provide technical assistance to state analysts in the areas of survey design, state-level data collection, and the use of federal survey data for state policy applications. She also directs the State Health Access Reform Evaluation (SHARE), an RWJF initiative to fund rigorous research on health reform issues at the state level, especially related to implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), with a focus on provisions designed to increase access and coverage. She is working to develop an evidence base for future state and national health reform efforts.

PETER CUNNINGHAM is senior fellow and director of quantitative research at the Center for Studying Health System Change, and specializes in access to care, the uninsured, public coverage programs, out-of-pocket medical care expenditures, and the effects of the health care safety net on disparities in health care. He also manages the design and data collection of its Health Tracking Household Survey. He was a researcher at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, where he worked on the 1987 National Medical Expenditure Survey.

RACHEL GARFIELD is a senior researcher and associate director at the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, the largest operating program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. She is responsible for directing Kaiser’s analytic work on the impact of health reform on coverage and access to care. Her work also focuses on the role of Medicaid in providing insurance coverage to the low-income population, mental health coverage under public programs, and public financing for health programs for the low-income.Prior to joining Kaiser, she was an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, where her research and teaching focused on state health financing/policy and the politics of health policy in the United States. She has also held positions as a policy analyst in Medicaid/CHIP policy and research consultant for hospital operations and management.

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