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Has other government program insurance

Codes and Frequencies

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In all years, HIOTHGOV indicates whether the person had health insurance coverage through a public program other than the public programs already asked about in the survey. For 1997 forward, in addition to excluding Medicare (for sample adults only beginning in 2019) and Medicaid, HIOTHGOV refers to public coverage other than a State-sponsored health care program, and for 1999 forward, also other than the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Beginning in 2019, sample children who indicated receiving Medicare were marked as affirmative for HIOTHGOV.

Over the years, the term "other" always referred to public insurance apart from the public programs already mentioned. The question order and the specific programs included in the interview prior to the question on "other public program" changed over time.

Except for 1992-1996, HIOTHGOV refers to coverage at the time of the interview; for 1992-1996, HIOTHGOV refers to coverage in the previous month.

Users are strongly encouraged to review the user note Insurance Data Collection.

Survey questions

For 1982 to 1996, respondents were asked a series of questions about whether family members had each of several types of public assistance coverage. For 1997 forward, respondents could select "other government program" from a list of different types of coverage.

The specific questions used to determine coverage through some other government program changed over time.


2019 forward

  • What kinds of health insurance or health care coverage do you have? Is it…Private health insurance, Medicare, Medicare supplement, Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program or CHIP, military related health care including TRICARE, CHAMPUS, VA health care and CHAMP-VA, Indian Health Service, a state-sponsored health plan, or an other government plan?
  • What kind of health insurance or health care coverage {do/does} {you/subject's name} have? INCLUDE those that pay for only one type of service (nursing home care, accidents, or dental care), exclude private plans that only provide extra cash while hospitalized.
  • What kind of health insurance or health care coverage {do/does} {you/subject's name} have? EXCLUDE private plans that only provide extra cash while hospitalized or pay for only one type of service (nursing home care, accidents, or dental care).
  • In (month), was anyone in the family covered by any OTHER public assistance program (other than Medicaid) that pays for health care? (Do NOT include use of public or free clinics if that is the ONLY source of care.)
  • (In (month), was anyone in the family covered by) any OTHER public assistance program, other than Medicaid, that pays for health care?
  • Is anyone in the family now covered by any other public assistance program that pays for health care?

For 1997 forward respondents were first asked if they (and each family member) were covered by any kind of health insurance or some other kind of health care plan. For 1997 to 1999, only those with an affirmative answer to this initial question have responses to follow-up questions about the type of health insurance and the details of coverage, including HIOTHGOV.


For 1997 to 1999, those who did not answer the initial question affirmatively are coded NIU (not in universe) for follow-up questions on insurance characteristics. Beginning in 2000, the response "no insurance" was included as a valid response to the initial question. Thus, for 2000 forward, the universe for follow-up questions on insurance coverage type and details was "all persons" (including those with an affirmative response to HINONE or "no insurance").

For years prior to 1997, the relevant questions for HIOTHGOV referred to "public assistance" programs.


The Field Representative's Manuals for 1982 through 1989 indicate that other public assistance programs include welfare which may provide health care benefits. For 1984 to 1989, interviewers were instructed not to include church-sponsored programs or "charitable foundations" (such as Shriner's Children's Hospitals or the American Cancer-Society), if this information was volunteered. The Manuals for 1992 to 1996 do not provide a specific definition of "other public assistance."

Prior to 1997, questions on coverage through military health care programs occurred after the question for HIOTHGOV.


As such, it is possible that respondents covered by such programs indicated a "yes" response for HIOTHGOV. Analysis by IPUMS NHIS staff indicates that a very small fraction of respondents who indicated coverage through HIOTHGOV were also covered by a military health care program. These persons may have had both types of coverage.

For 1997 forward, Field Representative's Manuals describe "other government program" as a "catch-all category for any public program providing health care other than those" already categorized.


In other words, HIOTHGOV for 1997 forward refers to some government program other than Medicare (for sample adults only beginning in 2019), Medi-gap, Medicaid, SCHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program), Military health care, Indian Health Service, or a State sponsored health plan. Beginning in 2019, HIOTHGOV refers to some other government program or Medicare for sample children only. Sample adults with Medicare coverage are captured by the variable HIMCARE and HIOTHGOV excludes Medicare coverage for these individuals.


Apart from changes in the universe, the basic meaning of HIOTHGOV is largely consistent over time. "Other" public assistance always referred to government programs other than Medicaid. Which additional programs were included depended on the year. Users should consult the detailed description of the "Data Collection Process" in the variable description for information about how question order and references to other specific programs varied over time.

HIOTHGOV is not comparable with recoded variables created by the NCHS staff for 1997 forward because the latter have been back-edited to verify accuracy of insurance coverage status (and the data used in HIOTHGOV were not back-edited).Most analysts studying only the period 1997 forward should use the back-edited variable HIOTHGOVE, rather than HIOTHGOV. Those studying a longer time period should use HIOTHGOV to maximize comparability.

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.


  • 1982; 1984; 1986; 1989; 1992: All persons.
  • 1983; 1993: Persons in quarters 3 and 4.
  • 1994-1996: All persons.
  • 1997-1999: Persons covered by some type of health care plan.
  • 2000-2018: All persons.
  • 2019-2022: Sample children ages 0-17 and sample adults age 18+.


  • 1982-1984, 1986, 1989, 1992-2022