Today or Last Year?

How Do Interviewees Answer the CPS Health Insurance Questions?

by Jeanne S. Ringel, Jacob Alex Klerman

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Abstract

CPS estimates of annual health insurance coverage are below estimates from other surveys and administrative data. One potential explanation is that respondents misinterpret the question and report current rather than past year status. The authors use CPS data matched to administrative enrollment records for Medi-Cal in California to evaluate this possibility. The individual-level matched data allows them to explore the validity of CPS responses under different enrollment scenarios, where “truth” is based on administrative data. While they find some support for the reference period argument, their findings appear more consistent with a combination of cognitive perspectives on interviewing and stigma.

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