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How Census 2020 impacts your health

Every 10 years, everyone in the United States — from citizens and residents to long-term visitors and undocumented immigrants — are counted in a massive survey called the U.S. Census. While it may be tempting to skip answering the survey, your health and wellness may depend on everyone’s participation.

What is at stake

So why is the census so important? Data about people living in the U.S. defines where political power and federal benefits go for the next 10 years.

On the political side, population data decides where the lines for political districts are drawn. For instance, the results of the 2020 Census will decide how many congressional seats Oregon and Washington will have for the next 10 years.

On the money side, the federal government distributes a lot of money — some estimates are as high as $1.5 trillion — based on census data. Programs like grants for higher education, loans for very low to moderate-income housing, money for roads and public transportation, and grants to local schools are all shaped by the population data the government receives through the census.

Many health-related programs are also funded by the government based on the data from the census. These include:

  • Medicaid
  • Medicare Part B
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
  • Community health center funding
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program

How you can help

Some people worry about providing personal information to the government. Rest assured, census information is protected. It is safe to participate, says Andre Wang, Portland-area attorney and Adventist Health Portland board member.

“First, there are no questions about immigration status,” Wang explains. “Second, by statute, the data collected by the Census Bureau is to be kept confidential for 72 years, except for purposes of drawing congressional boundaries.” That means the 2020 Census provides a great — and confidential — opportunity for you to help your community.

Completing the survey has never been easier. The census will be mailed to your home in mid-March. Then you can answer several ways:

  • Fill out the survey and mail it back.
  • Answer the questions online.
  • Wait for a census worker to come to your door to collect your census answers.

When you participate in the 2020 U.S. Census, you are making a real impact on the health of your entire community. Make sure you and your household get counted.