Data Cart

Your data extract

0 variables
0 samples
View Cart
Public assistance health insurance coverage

Codes and Frequencies

Can't find the category you are looking for? Try the Detailed codes


For all persons, PUBACOV is a recoded variable that reports whether the person had any form of public coverage.

Coverage was indicated by receipt of welfare (Aid to Families with Dependent Children, AFDC or Supplemental Security Income, SSI) and by persons reporting having a Medicaid card. Interviewers read a definition of Medicaid ("There is a program called Medicaid that pays for health care for persons in need"), then asked if any family member had a Medicaid card. If the response was affirmative, the interviewer asked to see the Medicaid card to verify coverage. Finally interviewers asked respondents about coverage through any other public assistance program that pays for health care


Apart from changes in the universe, there are no comparability issues. Changes in survey design (e.g., quarters in which the supplement was collected) may affect raw frequencies, but do not affect comparability of the variable. As always, data users should use the prescribed IPUMS NHIS weights.

PUBACOV is not comparable with edited variables available for 1997 forward.


For 1997 forward, the NCHS began editing the insurance coverage variables to ensure accuracy (see the variable description for HINOTCOVE, for further explanation). Often, respondents misclassified the type of insurance they had. 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 variables for 1997 forward reflect editing that verified the respondent's coverage status.

Users who wish to compare public coverage from before 1997 with surveys for 1997 forward should see the variable HIPUBCOV. Users are also strongly encouraged to review the user notes Insurance Data Collection.


  • 1982; 1984; 1986; 1989: All persons.
  • 1983: Persons in quarters 3 and 4.


  • 1982-1984, 1986, 1989