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Covered by Medicare last year

Codes and Frequencies

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CARELY identifies persons who reported Medicare coverage during the previous calendar year. Interviewers defined Medicare as "the health insurance for persons 65 and over or persons with disabilities."

Medicare provides health coverage to almost all Americans aged 65 or older. Disabled persons who received cash benefits for 24 months under the Social Security program and persons suffering from end-stage renal disease also have Medicare coverage. Medicare's Basic Hospital Insurance Plan pays for hospital costs and post-hospitalization services. The Medical Insurance Plan is a voluntary plan covering physicians' services and a variety of medical and health services received either inside or outside hospitals. This second part of Medicare is financed by monthly premium payments and subsidies from federal funds.

Through programming in IPUMS CPS, other cases were added to the pool of positive responses for CARELY. If the respondent mentioned Medicare coverage when answering a catchall summary question on "other" health insurance plans, after hearing questions about many specific types of insurance coverage (including Medicare), then that person was given a positive response for CARELY in IPUMS CPS.


User Note: For a set of variables that addresses many of the comparability issues in the CPS health insurance measures, see the summary health insurance variables created by the University of Minnesota's State Health Access Data Assistance Center.

Beginning with the ASEC 2001 survey, the CPS added a verification question (see VERIFY) to ascertain whether respondents who did not acknowledge health insurance coverage of various types in previous questions, actually lacked insurance coverage during the preceding calendar year. Persons who acknowledged health insurance coverage in this verification follow-up question were asked about the types of health insurance coverage they had. In IPUMS-CPS, for the ASEC 2001 survey onward, persons who reported Medicare coverage in response to this question were added, through programming, to the pool of positive responses for the CARELY variable. For consistency in results before and after the ASEC 2001 survey, researchers should exclude cases of Medicare coverage that were only identified via the verification question (i.e., exclude cases coded as "Yes" (2) in VERIFY when analyzing the CARELY data).

From 1980 through 1995, HIMCARELY identifies recipients of Medicare coverage during the previous calendar year. For 1980-1988, the Census Bureau edited the data so that all persons age 65 and older who reported income from Social Security were coded as "Yes" in HIMCARELY. For 1996 forward, the recoding done by the Census Bureau was essentially the same as that for IPUMS CPS, so only CARELY appears in this data set for those years.

For 1996 and 1997 only, persons who reported being covered by Medicare during the previous week are identified in CARELW.


  • 1996-2018 ASEC: All persons.


Years Jan Feb ASEC Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1996 – 2018 - - X - - - - - - - - -



Unharmonized Variables