Patterns of Individual Health Plan Coverage Among Rural Residents

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project completed:
August 2003
Individually purchased health plans have become an increasingly important source of coverage for many Americans, especially as employer-based coverage rates have declined. Studies have shown that these plans are more prevalent among rural than urban residents. There are still many unaddressed questions, however, concerning how and why rural consumers use the individual insurance market. This study will use the 1993 panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), to address two broad research goals: (1) to identify and compare the characteristics of rural and urban residents in individual plans, and (2) to investigate the patterns of individual plan coverage, including the duration of individual insurance spells and the paths of entrance and exit into individual insurance spells. The study will use descriptive analyses to explore the characteristics of rural and urban persons with individual insurance, comparing these people to those with other forms of insurance, or to the uninsured. Using the sample of people who have any spell of individual insurance coverage, we will employ survival analysis techniques to estimate the duration of their individual insurance spells. A variety of multivariate techniques will be used to test the hypotheses that 1) rural purchasers of individual insurance differ significantly from their urban counterparts in terms of socio-demographic, employment and health statuses and 2) there are rural-urban differences in the patterns of individual coverage. We will employ separate multivariate techniques to explore each of these general areas of inquiry. Both sets of analyses will explore the characteristics of persons holding individual insurance, as compared to others, while also comparing rural to urban residents.

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