Updated Survey Method Reveals More Uninsured, Smokers

(KCPW News) Updated survey methods used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Utah Department of Health indicate higher numbers of Utah adults either don’t have health insurance or smoke. Michael Friedrichs with Utah’s Bureau of Health Promotion says the survey now includes cell phone users, not just landlines, giving a more accurate picture of the population than before.

“Over the years, the proportion of young people in our survey has declined, the proportion of men has declined, the proportion of racial and ethnic minorities has declined, so we knew our survey was becoming less representative of the state’s population,” he explains.

The survey now estimates 21.5 percent of Utah’s adult population didn’t have health insurance in 2010, up from 14.4 percent. And it indicates 11.2 percent are smokers, up from 8.8 percent.

Friedrichs notes, however, that these increases were expected with the updated survey methods.

“What it really means is that we were underestimating them by 2 or 3 percent for the past few years,” said Friedrichs. “Our smoking rates have been going down and we still believe they’re going down.”

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey is conducted by state health departments and overseen by the CDC every year.