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Key Facts about the Current Population Surveys Data on Health Coverage Syed R Fayyaz September 30 2003 Each fall the US Bureau of the Census releases data regarding health coverage from the Current Population Survey CPS The numbers are the most widely cited figures for those without health coverage in the US Figures for 2002 released today show that the number of uninsured in the US rose to 436 million - an increase of 24 million over the previous year This means an estimated 152 percent of the US population had no health insurance during all of 2002 up from 146 percent in 2001 For a copy of the Census Bureau report and news release go to wwwcensusgovhheswwwhlthinshtml In order to help members of the media cover this years release the Alliance for Health Reform has put together some background materials and web links and a list of experts who could be interviewed BACKGROUND For the past several decades researchers have given us different ways to count and assess the number and characteristics of Americans without health insurance Currently the media policymakers and others rely on at least seven major surveys to reflect the national picture of the uninsured in this country The estimates of uninsured Americans vary widely Data from the Census Bureau suggest that in 2001 412 million Americans were uninsured for the year while data from the National Survey of American Families NSAF reports anywhere from 39 to 49 million uninsured Others groups have come up with estimates of from 20 to 70 million The numbers vary because surveys calculate the number of Americans who are uninsured for different periods of time ie the whole year vs part of the year vs any part of two years employ different survey instruments and differ in their use of telephone and in-person interviews But some of the difference in the estimates remains unexplained The CPS
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