Erie Vital Signs

Availability and Utilization of Healthcare Services: No Health Insurance

Recent Performance

This trend is mixed or inconclusive.

In both 2011 and 2013*, 13 percent of Erie County adults reported having no health insurance. This was lower than the state at 16 percent and lower than the nation at 20 percent.

Since 1999, the health status of adults in Erie County has fluctuated from a low of 9 percent in 1999 to a high of 17 percent in 2007. With the exception of 2007, Erie County rates have been lower than those for Pennsylvania.

For most people, having health insurance means having access to care. Many factors can influence individual health insurance status. Among them are education and income. Data suggests that among Erie County residents, the groups most likely to not have health insurance include those without a high school diploma and residents with incomes of less than $25,000 a year while higher education and income levels increase the likelihood of having health insurance.

*2013 indicates data for the period 2011-13.

Note: Much of the data for the Health Indicators come from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Survey. Each metro area decides whether or not to participate each year, so these indicators often do not have data for every year for every metro area. As a result, the graphs show markers (dots, diamonds, etc.) for the individual years rather than lines. If there are data for consecutive years, the markers will be joined with a line on the graphs.

The Basics

This indicator reports the percentage of Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Survey respondents aged 18-64 who answered “no” to the survey question: Do you have any kind of health care coverage, including health insurance, prepaid plans such as HMOs, or government plans such as Medicare or Indian Health Services?

Why is this important?

Health insurance is a key factor in determining access to medical care and timeliness of getting the care someone needs. Lack of insurance can result in behaviors that put a person’s health at risk, such as not seeking care when needed or delaying treatment. It can also result in a tendency to seek care in emergency rooms, which is more costly than through primary care providers. Not surprisingly, people who don’t have health insurance are statistically more likely to have poor health and a lower life expectancy rate.

The Details

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Survey is a telephone based health survey of adults age 18 and above. Both landline and cell phone users are included. Initiated in 1984 by the CDC, it is now administered nationally, statewide, regionally, and locally. The survey focuses on health care access, health conditions, risk behaviors, and preventive health practices. Standardized questions allow comparison among various population groups. For 2013, Erie County used 3-Year Sum County Level data, for years 2011-2013, which was provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Similar 3-Year Sum data for Pennsylvania was used for comparison.

The Nitty-Gritty Details


This EVS indicator has no subcategories. The raw data for Erie County do provide data for subcategories based on sex, age, education, income, and race.

Peer Areas

The BRFSS data are available for Erie, the state of Pennsylvania, and the United States. Data is also available for the following thirteen peer selected metropolitan/micropolitan statistical areas (MMSAs): Akron OH, Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton PA-NJ, Boulder CO, Cedar Rapids IA, Flint MI, Gainesville FL, Green Bay WI, Kalamazoo-Portage MI, Lansing-East Lansing MI, Laredo TX, Peoria IL, Roanoke VA, and Spartanburg SC.


Erie County completes a BRFSS every four to five years. The survey is administered every year at the state and national level.


Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey, administered by the Erie County Department of Health following guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pennsylvania Department of Health 3-Year Sum County Level data. Links to the data are given above under “All the Nitty-Gritty Details”.

Other Related Data

Additional Studies and Research

  • Surveillance for Certain Health Behaviors Among States and Selected Local Areas — Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, United States, 2011, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011 Surveillance

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