Pros and Cons of New 2014 Census Bureau Data on Health Insurance Rates in Wisconsin Outlined in New WCCF Report
The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) will release new data reflecting the number of uninsured individuals in Wisconsin and across the nation. Many of the ACA’s major laws, including access to health coverage through both the federal and state-based insurance marketplaces went into effect in 2014 and the data will help provide important insights regarding the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the uninsured rate in 2014. However, given our analysis of more recent enrollment data, as well as the fact that the ACS data reflects a monthly average of survey data, the new ACS data won’t fully reflect the gains in health insurance enrollment in Wisconsin since January 2014.
WCCF has prepared a new report, “New Census Data Won’t Fully Reflect Health Insurance Gains,” outlining areas in which the new ACS data will shed light on the growth in access to health insurance since major provisions to the Affordable Care Act were implemented, as well as an explanation as to why the new data won’t entirely reflect the growth in health insurance coverage in Wisconsin.
The report provides a timeline of key policy changes regarding health insurance access in Wisconsin in 2014. In addition, the report provides background information on the ACS survey, and the data that will reflect the effects of the ACA on the coverage of children, the net effect on private insurance, as well as county-level data health insurance data for the 23 largest counties in Wisconsin.
The new report also provides analysis of other sources of health insurance data that will help supplement the new ACS data. This includes data from the National Health Interview Survey, the Gallup Survey on uninsured rates, and our own analysis of the BadgerCare+ and Marketplace enrollment data (Figure 1) that help put into perspective a more complete picture of the gains in health coverage since January 2014. Figure 1 illustrates the combined growth in enrollment for BadgerCare+, and the federal marketplace, and shows the big jump in marketplace enrollment occurring in 2015 that won’t be reflected in the 2014 ACS data.
While our report highlights some important issues to consider in terms of the new ACS data, the data still will be very helpful because it’s a very large survey and will provide the first state-level data on the changes in coverage for children, as well as adults. In addition, it will provide very valuable information on the change in the number of people with private insurance outside the Marketplace.