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Has private health insurance purchased directly

Codes and Frequencies

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HIBUYOWN indicates whether the person currently had private health insurance coverage purchased directly. Private health care plans may be provided, may be purchased directly, or may be paid partly or in full by an individual's employer or union. Interviewers handed respondents a flashcard that listed various types of insurance, including distinct kinds of private health insurance coverage: private health insurance plan from employer or workplace; private health insurance plan purchased directly; and for 1998 forward, private insurance plan through a state or local government program or community program. Respondents could pick more than one type of insurance and interviewers were instructed to mark all that applied.

Single service plans are another type of insurance that is usually classified as private health insurance, but single service plan coverage did not count as private insurance coverage.

HIBUYOWN has not been edited variable by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) to correct for errors in the type of insurance the person had. See the variable description for HIPRIVATEE for more information.

The definition, order and wording of private health insurance changed over time to reflect changes in the availability of different types of coverage and issues of interest. Users are strongly encouraged to review the user notes Insurance Data Collection and Private Insurance Definitions.


The Field Representative's Manual for 1998 defines a private health insurance plan as "any type of health insurance, including Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), other than the public programs in categories (4) and (6)-(11)" (of the flash card used by respondents in that year to report their type(s) of insurance coverage). In other words, private health insurance is, in the NCHS, defined as insurance other than Medicare, Medi-Gap, Medicaid, Military health care/VA, CHAMPUS/TRICARE/CHAMP-VA, Indian Health Service, State-sponsored health plans, and health insurance from other government programs (including CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Plan, which was added to the card in 1999).

Initially, the NHIS specifically directed respondents to exclude such private single service plans from their reports of private insurance coverage. In 1997-1998, respondents were instructed to exclude single service plans; in 1999, the category "single service plan" was added to the flash card.

Data Editing and Recoding

During the course of data editing, the NCHS discovered many errors in the responses to questions about insurance coverage. Often, respondents misclassified the type of insurance they had. This might be shown, for example, by a mismatch between the verbatim name of an insurance plan and the type of insurance coverage the person selected from the categories on the card.

Accordingly, the NCHS created a series of recoded insurance variables. For these recoded insurance variables, such as HIPRIVATEE, the data are back-edited, taking into account the verbatim names of insurance plans. The NCHS strongly advises analysts to use these recoded insurance variables as a more reliable source of information about the types of insurance coverage than is provided by respondents' original and unedited answers about their insurance type.


There are no comparability issues.


  • 1997-1999: Persons who are covered by some type of health insurance plan.
  • 2000-2003: All persons


  • 1997-2003