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Plan 1: How insurance obtained

Codes and Frequencies

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For sample adults and sample children who have a private health insurance plan (HIPRIVATEE), HIP1HOWGOT indicates how the person's first insurance plan was obtained. Prior to 2019, this variable is available for all persons who have a private insurance plan. See the Comparability tab for additional information about changes to the response categories over time.


Changes to response categories limit the comparability of this variable over time. In 2011, the categories "Through parents" and "Through relative other than parents" were added after further examination of verbatim responses. In 2015, the response option "Through or the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare" was added. In 2019, the response options "Through employer," "Through union," "Through workplace, ukn if employer or union," and "Through workplace, self-employed or professional organization" were combined into one response option, "Through workplace, either an employer, union, or professional organization." The response categories are the same for 2004-2010, 2011-2014, 2015-2018, and 2019 forward.

To maximize comparability across years, IPUMS NHIS uses a two-digit composite coding system for HIP1HOWGOT. The first digit covers categories available for most years in the survey, while the second digit provides additional detail specific to individual years or groups of years. By using the first digit of the variable, users can achieve general comparability.

Prior to 2004, a similar question was asked, but focused explicitly on obtaining plans through the workplace (HI1WORK). HIP1HOWGOT is offered as a separate variable in IPUMS NHIS beginning in 2004, when "through school" was added as a category.

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.


  • 2004-2018: Persons with private health insurance.
  • 2019-2022: Sample adults age 18+ and sample children age 0-17 with private health insurance (HIPRIVATEE).


  • 2004-2022