The Measurement of Medicaid Coverage in the SIPP: Evidence from California, 1990-1996

David Card, Andrew K. G. Hildreth, Lara D. Shore-Sheppard

NBER Working Paper No. 8514
Issued in October 2001
NBER Program(s):Health Care, Public Economics

This paper studies the accuracy of reported Medicaid coverage in the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) using a unique data set formed by matching SIPP survey responses to administrative records from the State of California. Overall, we estimate that the SIPP underestimates Medicaid coverage in the California population by about 10 percent. Among SIPP respondents who can be matched to administrative records, we estimate that the probability someone reports Medicaid coverage in a month when they are actually covered is around 85 percent. The corresponding probability for low-income children is even higher - at least 90 percent. These estimates suggest that the SIPP provides reasonably accurate coverage reports for those who are actually in the Medicaid system. On the other hand, our estimate of the false positive rate (the rate of reported coverage for those who are not covered in the administrative records) is relatively high: 2.5 percent for the sample as a whole, and up to 20 percent for poor children. Some of this is due to errors in the recording of Social Security numbers in the administrative system, rather than to problems in the SIPP.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w8514

Published: Card, James, Andrew K. G. Hildreth and Lara Shore-Sheppard. “The Measurement of Medicaid Coverage in the SIPP: Evidence from California, 1990-1996." Journal of Business and Economic Statistics 22 (October 2004).

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