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Has health insurance from employer/work

Codes and Frequencies

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HIWORK indicates whether the respondent had private health insurance from his/her employer or workplace. Please see the "Universe" tab for more detailed information on changes in the universe across survey samples.

Definition of Private Insurance

From 1990 to 1992, the Field Representative's Manual defined private health insurance as any type of comprehensive health insurance (other than public programs), including Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs). Single service plans such as those that paid for eye care, dental, or prescription services were not considered to be private health insurance.

In 1997 and 1998, interviewers specifically instructed respondents to exclude private insurance plans which paid for only one type of service (such as nursing home care, accidents, or dental care) or single service plans. For 1999 forward, a separate category indicating single service plans was added to the survey to further distinguish that single service plans were not a type of private health insurance. For all years from 1997 forward, plans which only provided extra cash while hospitalized were not considered health insurance.

For 1997 to 2003, the survey provided three categories (two categories in 1997) of private insurance (HIWORK; private insurance purchased directly HIBUYOWN; or purchased through state or government program HIGOVCOM).

Data Editing and Recoding

For 1997 forward, HIWORK reflects responses that have been edited for accuracy, based on plan name, by the NCHS. Users are strongly encouraged to refer to HIPRIVATEE for more information.


During the course of 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. Users should be aware that the responses for HIWORK have not been edited for accuracy and respondents may have mistakenly reported their insurance information.

HIWORK is part of the Family Resources supplement from 1990 to 1992. All missing data in this supplement were imputed by the NHIS. Please refer to HIWORKFLAG to identify persons with imputed data in 1990-1992.


Apart from changes in the universe, HIWORK is comparable for 1997 forward. The inclusion of a separate category of single service coverage may improve accuracy for 1999 forward.

Users are strongly encouraged to review the user notes Insurance Data Collection and Private Insurance Definitions for more information on how the definition of private insurance changed across survey samples.


Note that the universe changed between 1999 and 2000, although this should not change affirmative responses for this variable. For 1997 to 1999, it reflects responses of all persons who already indicated they had some form of health insurance. For 2000 to 2003, it reflects responses of all persons. In all years, respondents were handed a card listing types of insurance and were asked to pick which one(s) applied. For 2000 forward, the response category, "no coverage of any type" was a response category listed on the card. Prior to this year, those with no coverage would be "not in universe" on this variable.


  • 1990-1992: Persons covered by private health insurance last month.
  • 1997-1999: Persons covered by some type of health care plan.
  • 2000-2003: All persons


  • 1990-1992, 1997-2003