ARGH! – Census edition

From the NYT:

The Census Bureau, the authoritative source of health insurance data for more than three decades, is changing its annual survey so thoroughly that it will be difficult to measure the effects of President Obama’s health care law in the next report, due this fall, census officials said.

The changes are intended to improve the accuracy of the survey, being conducted this month in interviews with tens of thousands of households around the country. But the new questions are so different that the findings will not be comparable, the officials said.

Many, including me, have been using CPS data for a long time to track the numbers of uninsured. Yes, the questions are imperfect. I’ve discussed that, too. This report was from 2005! But the standardization of them made it easier to track changes over time. 

And NOW is the time to be able to track changes to the uninsured. Is the ACA working? You think we might want to know that?

Altering the questions right now so that we can’t measure what’s going on is terrible. If they were so bad they needed altering, a few years ago would have been better. Or, a few years from now. But right now? It’s killing me.

UPDATE : Yes, I know we’ll get data on 2013 with the “new” questions. But it’s actually helpful to have a trend to measure, not a pre-post 2013/2014. This still sucks.


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