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Has any doctor from a preferred list

Codes and Frequencies

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HIPMDLISR is a recoded variable created by the IPUMS NHIS staff. For persons with at least one comprehensive private health insurance plan for which they can choose any doctor (HIPMDPICR), HIPMDLISR indicates whether their plan provides the option of choosing a doctor from a preferred or select list at lower cost.

Data Collection Process

While information was consistently collected on up to four private plans per family, data are publicly available only for plans one and two beginning in 2004. Changes in the number of plans considered should have little effect on the results for HIPMDLISR.


Persons with three or more plans have a "yes" response to HIPRIVGT2 (available for 2004 forward). Analysis by IHIS staff indicates that a very small number of persons (less than 0.2 percent of the total number of individuals with private health insurance per year for 2004 to 2009) had three or more private insurance plans.

For 1997 forward, interviewers first asked whether the person was covered by any kind of health insurance or some other kind of health care plan, before asking about the details of private insurance coverage.


For 1997 to 1999, only people with an affirmative answer to this initial question have responses to follow-up questions about their kind of health insurance and the details of coverage; for 1997 to 1999, those who did not say "yes" 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").

Survey text

In all years, the relevant survey question asked for each private plan was the following:

  • Do [you/the family member(s) with this plan] have the option of choosing a doctor from a preferred or select list at lower cost to you?
Definition of Private Insurance

While the definition of private insurance changed over time, these changes did not affect the detailed questions about the characteristics of private comprehensive insurance plans (in variables like HIPMDLISR). For a description of general changes in the definition of private health insurance during this period, see the variable description for HIPMDOPR and the User Note about "Changes in the Definition of Private Insurance."


HIPMDLISR is largely comparable over time. The variable universe and question wording were consistent, and changes in the number of private plans covered would have little effect, given the rarity of people with more than two private plans.

The back-editing of insurance data to correct respondents' misreporting of insurance type reduces the comparability of HIPMDLISR's data from before and after 1997.


Beginning in 1997, NCHS staff evaluated mismatches between verbatim insurance plan names and the type of coverage reported by respondents, and reclassified misreported cases into the proper category (e.g., from private insurance into Medicaid, or vice versa). (See HIPRIVATEE for a detailed description of the back-editing process.) Analysis by IHIS staff indicates that each year from 2004 to 2009, around 1.6 percent of respondents who reported having private insurance did not have private insurance.

For 1997 forward, details on private plan coverage, such as HIPMDLISR, reflect responses for which the coverage type was back-edited. Prior to 1997, respondents may have misreported what type of insurance they had, and these errors were not corrected. Users should thus exercise caution in comparing results for HIPMDLISR from before and after 1997.


  • 1993: Persons in quarters 3 and 4 covered by a general health insurance plan (excludes single service plans)
  • 1994-1996: Persons who are covered by a general health insurance plan (excludes single service plans)
  • 1998-2018: Persons who are covered by a general health insurance plan (excludes single service plans)


  • 1993-1996, 1998-2018