Questions for Tina Norris, Ph.D., Health Statistician and Lead Author of “Early Release of Selected Estimates Based on Data From the January – March 2017 National Health Interview Survey.”
Q: Were there any findings that surprised you in this early release report?
TN: It is hard to say with quarter 1 findings that anything is truly “surprising” because estimates are based on a smaller sample sizes and could fluctuate a bit before settling down by the time we have a full year’s worth of data to analyze.
Q: Are there any trends in this report that Americans should be concerned about?
TN: Obesity is an epidemic that has seen a steady increase since 1997 and now affects just under one third (32.0%) of U.S. adults.
Q: Can you define what the health measure “usual place to go for medical care” means?
TN: Having a “usual place to go for medical care” is based on the question, “Is there a place that you usually go to when you are sick or need advice about your health?” If there was at least one such place, then a follow-up question was asked: “What kind of place [is it/do you go to most often]—a clinic, doctor’s office, emergency room, or some other place?” Adults who indicated that the emergency room was their usual place for care were considered not to have a usual place for health care.
Q: What do the findings in this report tell us about access to healthcare?
TN: Since 2010, the percentage of uninsured persons has decreased by almost 50% (16.0% vs 8.8%), and the percentage of persons who had a usual place to go for medical care increased from 85.4% in 2010, to 88.8% in January–March 2017. These two indicators demonstrate increased access to healthcare from 2010 through the first quarter of 2017.
Q: How do you collect your data for these surveys?
TN: The data is collected by household interview surveys that are fielded continuously throughout the year by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Interviews are conducted in respondents’ homes. Health and socio-demographic information is collected on each member of all families residing within a sampled household. Within each family, additional information is collected from one randomly selected adult (the “sample adult”) aged 18 years or older and one randomly selected child (the “sample child”) aged 17 years or younger. NHIS data is collected at one point in time so we cannot determine causation. Data presented in this report are quarterly data and are preliminary.