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Plan 2: Paid for by employer/union

Codes and Frequencies

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For sample adults and sample children who have a private insurance plan (HIPRIVATEE), HIP2EMP indicates that the person's second plan was paid for by their employer or union. This category includes persons who were self-employed and obtained coverage through self-employment or professional associations. Prior to 2019, this variable is available for all persons who have a private insurance plan.

For all years HIP2EMP is available the definition of private insurance coverage remained relatively consistent and excluded single service plans or plans which paid only for accidents. However, the definition, order, and wording of private health insurance changed over time. Users are strongly encouraged to review the user note Private Insurance Definitions.

Related variables  

Information was collected on up to four plans per family until 2019; for 2004-2018, only data for plans one and two are publicly available. Users may also want to see the related variables HIP1EMP, HIP3EMP, and HIP4EMP.

Persons with three or more plans have a "yes" response to the HIPRIVGT2 variable (available for 2004-2018). A very small number of persons have more than two private insurance plans. Additional information for the third and fourth plans for a person is available through a Data Research Center. Beginning in 2019, information is only collected on up to two private plans.

IPUMS NHIS has also created the variable HIPEMPAYR, available for 1989 forward for years in which survey data is available, which indicates whether the respondent had any private plan paid for by the employer.

Data Editing and Recoding 

For 1997 forward, HIP2EMP reflects responses that have been edited by the NCHS based on plan name. Only respondents verified to have private insurance are included in the universe for HIP2EMP. A full description of the editing process and changes in definition is provided under the variable descriptions for private insurance in HIPRIVATEE; a brief description is provided below.

During the course of data editing, the NCHS discovered 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. The NCHS created a series of recoded insurance variables, which are edited to correct for mistakenly reported insurance information. 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. See HIPRIVATEE for a list of the recoded health insurance variables.


This variable is mostly comparable over time. In 1989, this question was asked only of respondents with private health insurance who indicated the plan was obtained through an employer or union. The question wording was also different in 1989 than from 1997 forward. Respondents were asked, "Does the employer or union pay for any part of the cost for this (name) plan?" whereas for 1997 forward, respondents were asked a more general question, "Who pays for this plan?"

For 1997 forward, response categories for who paid for the plan changed over time, as new types of insurance programs became available. For all years, the categories of self or family (living in the household), employer or union, someone outside the household, Medicare, and Medicaid are available. For 1999-2018, respondents could report the category Children's Health Insurance Program. From 1998-2018, the category, "state or local government or community program" was used in place of the 1997 category of "government program." Beginning in 2019, the "state or local government or community program" category was changed to "Other government program."

Information was collected on up to four plans per family until 2019; for 2004-2018, only data for plans one and two are publicly available. However, this reduction in the number of plans publicly available does not greatly reduce comparability as very few individuals have more than two private insurance plans. Persons with more than two plans have a "yes" response to the HIPRIVGT2 variable (available for 2004-2018).

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.


  • 1989: Persons who were covered by a private health insurance plan that pays any part of a hospital, doctor or dental bill.
  • 1997-2018: Persons with at least two private health insurance plans.
  • 2019-2022: Sample adults age 18+ and sample children age 0-17 with at least 2 private health insurance plans.


  • 1989, 1997-2022