Census Releases 2011 CPS Estimates of Insurance Coverage

September 12, 2012: The 2011 Current Population Survey (CPS) estimates of insurance coverage are now available from the US Census Bureau. 

The 2011 estimates come from the 2012 CPS Annual Social and Economic Supplement, which samples about 100,000 addresses in the 50 states and the District of Columbia and asks respondents about insurance coverage during the previous calendar year.  People are considered “insured” if they were covered by any type of health insurance for part or all of the prior year.

Highlighted Estimates

Nationwide, the percentage of people lacking health insurance coverage during 2011 fell to 15.7 percent from 16.3 percent in 2010.  This equates to drop of 1.4 million uninsured people, down from 50.0 million in 2010 to 48.6 million in 2011.

Type of Coverage

For the first time in 10 years, the rate of private insurance (which includes employer coverage and direct-purchase coverage) did not show a year-over-year decrease from 2010 to 2011, remaining statistically unchanged at 63.9 percent (vs. 64.0 percent in 2010).  The percentage of people covered by Medicaid, however, increased from 15.8 percent to 16.5 percent from 2010 to 2011, representing a statistically significant increase of 2.3 million enrollees.

Coverage by Age

Among children younger than 18 years, 9.4 percent (or 7.0 million) were uninsured in 2011, which is not statistically different from 2010.  However, among young adults aged 19 to 25, the uninsured rate decreased in 2011 to 27.7 percent from 29.8 percent in 2010.  (The next-highest age group, 26 to 34 year olds, saw no significant change in its uninsured rate from 2010 to 2011.) 

Coverage by State

The table below provides CPS estimates of state-level uninsurance rates for 2010 and 2011 and compares the year-to-year changes.[1] Seven states—Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York, North Dakota, and Oregon—along with the District of Columbia experienced statistically significant decreases in their rates of uninsurance (though these decreases were significant at only the p =.10 level for Iowa and Oregon).  Colorado and New Hampshire, on the other hand, saw statistically significant increases in their rates of uninsurance.


View/download table as PDF.


[1] These state comparisons are based on single-year CPS estimates of insurance coverage.  In general, the sample size of the CPS calls for the use of two-year averages when looking at changes in state coverage over time.  In the present case, we opted to use the single-year estimates because the 2-year averages (i.e., 2008-2009 vs. 2010-2011), while more reliable in general, might not capture recent coverage changes.