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Health insurance plan 5: Carried through employer or union

Codes and Frequencies

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For persons in families with at least five private health insurance plans, the fifth of which was obtained through an employer or union (HI5WORK), HI5EMP indicates whether the fifth private insurance plan mentioned was carried through an employer or union at the time of the interview.

Related variables

Please use the IPUMS NHIS drop-down menus and search function for other related variables.

Data Collection Process

Details about the characteristics of insurance plans (such as HI5EMP) reflect plans for any family member in the household. In order to determine if the person (rather than someone else in the family) was covered by this plan, analysts should use the variable HI5PCOV (Health Insurance Plan 5: Person's Coverage Status), which indicates whether the person was covered by the plan.

Information was collected on up to five private plans in most years (and on up to six plans in 1983).


Thus, information about whether the person had private insurance that was currently carried through an employer or union may appear in multiple variables: HI1EMP, HI2EMP, HI3EMP, HI4EMP, and HI5EMP. Likewise, the complementary variables HI1PCOV, HI2PCOV, HI3PCOV, HI4PCOV, and HI5PCOVindicate coverage status for the individual under each plan.

Users may prefer to use the constructed variable HIPEMPAYR (Has any private insurance plan paid in part or full by employer), which was created by the IHIS staff using HI1EMP through HI5EMP and which summarizes information for each individual across all private insurance plans.

Definition of Private Coverage

The definition of private insurance changed over time. Users are strongly encouraged to review the user notes Insurance Data Collection and Private Insurance Definitions.


For 1982 to 1989, plans that paid only for accidents or for only one type of service were not considered to constitute private health insurance, but plans that paid "extra cash" for hospital stays were considered to be health insurance.

One key difference was that prior to 1989, interviewers did not explicitly instruct respondents to exclude single service plans when reporting insurance coverage. In contrast, in 1989, the Field Representative's Manuals specifically indicated insurance had to be a comprehensive plan and not a single service plan and to exclude plans that pay for only one service.

The 1989 survey was the first year which distinguished single service plans from comprehensive insurance, and was the first year information on such plans was collected. The 1989 Manual noted, "There are many health care plans now available that pay only for a specific health care service, such as prescriptions, cancer treatment, or eye care. These plans are generally offered in addition to the usual comprehensive coverage."


Apart from changes in the survey quarters in which this question was asked, and question wording to exclude single service coverage for 1989, HI5EMP is comparable over time. Using the prescribed IHIS weights eliminates comparability issues related to survey design.


  • 1982; 1984: Persons covered by private health insurance that pays any part of hospital, doctor's or surgeon's bill.
  • 1983: Persons in quarters 3 and 4 covered by private health insurance that pays any part of hospital, doctor's, or surgeon's bill.
  • 1986; 1989: Persons covered by private health insurance that pays any part of hospital, doctor's, surgeon's or dentist's bill.


  • 1982-1984, 1986, 1989