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Tracking Health Insurance Trends for Small Counties

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Today, the Small Area Health Insurance Estimates (SAHIE) program released estimates for 2010 of the number of insured and uninsured for counties and states nationwide. The program also provides a Web-based interactive tool that allows you to display and map health insurance coverage estimates for states and counties.

The SAHIE program is the only source of single-year estimates of the number of insured and uninsured for all counties in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  sponsor and use SAHIE to distribute funds for the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. By 2014, changes to the law will extend certain Medicaid benefits to uninsured people falling into specific income groups, and SAHIE estimates will permit users to track the impact of the law on small counties. SAHIE provides estimates for state and county uninsured populations with incomes up to 138 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level. Government and health care officials can utilize SAHIE to prepare for these changes.

SAHIE produces model-based estimates by combining health insurance coverage data from the American Community Survey with administrative and other Census Bureau data sources.

At the county level, you can find estimates on insurance coverage by sex, age groups, and income-to-poverty ratios. The upcoming release will provide estimates of coverage for the 50 to 64 age group at the county level for the first time. These figures will help local government leaders plan for the future. In addition to county level statistics, SAHIE provides state level estimates by sex, race, ethnicity and income.

You can view the application by visiting the SAHIE Web page, where you will find an interactive mapping tool for the 2008 – 2010 estimates. When you open the SAHIE interactive map link, the default map displays state-level uninsured estimates for the entire U.S. From there, you can choose what geography, year, sex, age group, and poverty categories to view by selecting an option from the dropdown boxes on left side of the screen and hitting the “Get Data” button.

COUNTY MAP: United States

Estimates for specific race groups are available at the state-level. New to the 2010 release, as mentioned earlier, SAHIE will provide estimates of coverage for the 50 to 64 population at the county level.

To see a more detailed map, you can either use the zoom controls on the top of the tool or double click the area on the map you want to enlarge. The snapshot of the San Francisco metro area below shows how you can concentrate on one geographic area.  If the mouse hovers over a point on the map, a balloon box will pop up, displaying the name of the county and its corresponding insured or uninsured estimate and margin of error. The table below the map shows the highlighted state or county estimate, along with estimates for nearby areas for comparison.

COUNTY MAP: San Francisco Metropolitan Area

Note that you can select different backgrounds for the map from the dropdown box in the upper right corner of the pane. Maps can have a blank background for seeing a clearer picture of the distribution of the uninsured in an area.  They can also display a street view (shown above) to help in placing the county boundaries in the context of local towns and cities.  In each case, you can control the transparency of the overlying map by dragging the button in the “Map Transparency” section left or right.

You can find more options for downloading the SAHIE data by visiting:

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