SHADAC Expertise


The American Community Survey (ACS) is a general household survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau that includes data on income, poverty, disability, marital status, education, occupation, travel to work, and disability, health insurance coverage, among other topics. An important feature of the ACS is that it includes a large enough sample for state-level and sub-state estimates including estimates of insurance coverage. The ACS has asked about health insurance coverage since 2008, inquiring about coverage for each person in the household separately. Respondents can indicate more than one type of coverage. SHADAC uses American Community Survey data to analyze and understand coverage, health disparities, and more in the United States.

Learn more about the detailed codes and definitions for variables, statistical testing, and an explanation of sample design, methodology, and accuracy for the American Community Survey on the U.S. Census Bureau’s website.

American Community Survey Estimates
The ACS health insurance estimates are available through summary tabulations, downloads of microdata, and restricted-use files. 

Restricted Use Files
ACS Summary Tabulations

SHADAC's State Health Compare provides summary tabulations of ACS estimates from 2008 to the present for select measures. State Health Compare is a user-friendly tool for obtaining state-level estimates related to health and healthcare.

Please visit American Factfinder (AFF) or for data tables based on the full file that include all topics available in the ACS.

ACS Microdata
Microdata are available using the Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS) or the full file. The PUMS, which are available directly through the Census Bureau or from a few third party data access sites, include a sample of the full ACS (about 67% of records). SHADAC recommends accessing public use microdata from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS).

The full ACS file is a restricted-use file available only at a Census Research Data Center (RDC). Users must submit an application to use an RDC and, once approved, travel to the RDC to conduct the research. The University of Minnesota houses an RDC (MNRDC) and SHADAC will work with state health policy analysts who are interested in using this facility. Feel free to contact SHADAC to discuss your MNRDC needs.

ACS Resources
Comprehensive documentation on the ACS is available at the Census Bureau's ACS web page.  SHADAC also has a variety of annually-updated resources related to the measurement of health insurance coverage that can be found here.

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