Medicaid Undercount and Bias to Estimates of Uninsurance: New Estimates and Existing Evidence

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Abstract

Objective.

To examine whether known Medicaid enrollees misreport their health insurance coverage in surveys and the extent to which misreports of lack of coverage bias estimates of uninsurance.

Data Source.

Primary survey data from the Medicaid Undercount Experiment.

Study Design.

Analyze new data from surveys of Medicaid enrollees in California, Florida, and Pennsylvania and summarize existing research examining bias in coverage estimates due to misreports among Medicaid enrollees.

Data Collection Method.

Subjects were randomly drawn from Medicaid administrative records and were surveyed by telephone.

Principal Findings and Conclusions.

Cumulative evidence shows that a small percentage of Medicaid enrollees mistakenly report being uninsured, resulting in modest upward bias in estimates of uninsurance. A somewhat larger percentage of enrollees report having some other type of coverage than no coverage, biasing Medicaid enrollment estimates downward but not biasing estimates of uninsurance significantly upward. Implications for policy makers' confidence in survey estimates of coverage are discussed.

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