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Codes and Frequencies

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For all sample adults (and children in all years previous to 2021), HIMEDIGAP indicates whether a person has Medi-Gap (Medicare Supplement Insurance) policy.

For 1997 to 1999, only people who were covered by any kind of health insurance were asked questions about the type of coverage (and are in the universe for HIMEDIGAP). Beginning in 2000, persons could indicate "no insurance" but nonetheless received follow-up questions on insurance coverage.

Though no definition is provided to healths, Medi-Gap is a term for insurance policies that are designed to cover the health care not covered by Medicare.


Policy owners pay a monthly premium for this extra coverage. The plans offer standardized levels of coverage (set by the U.S. government) and are sold by private companies. Thus, although different insurance companies sell these policies, the benefits of each class of Medi-gap plan are always the same. However, the cost may vary by type of plan, and insurance companies are allowed to set their own prices and rules about eligibility.

According to, some Medi-gap policies are used to cover prescription drugs. As of 2006, when the Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage (Medicare Part D) went into effect, Medi-gap plans no longer offer prescription drug coverage. However, persons with a Medi-gap plans that covered prescriptions were allowed to keep this benefit.

Users should be aware that the responses for HIMEDIGAP were not edited for accuracy.


During data editing, the NCHS discovered many errors in the responses to questions about insurance coverage. 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. Because of such errors in reporting, users should not combine the edited responses with the non-edited responses.


Apart from changes in the universe, this variable is completely comparable before 2019. Substantial questionnaire changes introduced in 2019 may affect comparability with earlier years.

The NHIS questionnaire was substantially redesigned in 2019 to introduce a different data collection structure and new content. For more information on changes in terminology, universes, and data collection methods beginning in 2019, please see the user note.

Users should note that only sample adults are included in the universe for this variable in 2021. Sample children who were covered by a Medi-gap policy are included in HIPRIVATE.


  • 1997-1999: Persons covered by some type of health care plan.
  • 2000-2018: All persons.
  • 2019-2020: Sample adults age 18+ and sample children age 0-17.
  • 2021 2022: Sample adults age 18+


  • 1997-2022