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The Influence of COVID-19-related Data Collection Changes on Measuring Health Insurance Coverage in the 2020 CPS ASEC

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Working Paper Number 2020-13

Introduction

The Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC) is a critical source for national estimates of health insurance coverage in the United States. This year, data collection for the CPS ASEC (which provides estimates of coverage for calendar year 2019) largely occurred during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. In this paper, we consider how COVID-related changes to data collection may have influenced CPS ASEC health insurance coverage estimates. Given the circumstances during CPS ASEC data collection, we cannot disentangle real changes in health insurance coverage between 2018 and 2019 from changes due to operational adaptations due to the pandemic. Findings suggest that estimates of 2018-2019 change in health insurance coverage in the CPS ASEC should be used with caution. We recommend that data users consider the impact of the pandemic in interpreting 2018-2019 change in CPS ASEC health insurance estimates.

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