The Office of Consumer Affairs

September 1998 Report


DOC Consumer-Related Activities


The following agencies are included in this report:





-- An estimated 43.4 million people in the U.S. had no health insurance coverage in 1997, an increase of 1.7 million from the previous year.

-- Groups most likely to be without health insurance coverage were young adults between 18-24, persons of Hispanic origin, those with lower levels of education, part-time workers and persons who were foreign born.

-- Medicaid notwithstanding, 11.2 million poor people, nearly one-third (31.6 percent) of all poor people, had no health insurance in 1997.

For questions about the data, contact Bob Bennefield (301-457-3242). For more information, see Health Insurance Coverage: 1997, P60-202. For ordering information, contact Customer Services (301-457-4100). The Internet address is:

-- The number of Asians and Pacific Islanders residing in California jumped by 829,623 between 1990 and 1997. New York was second with an increase of 243,609, followed by Texas (192,544), New Jersey (146,714) and Florida (96,674).

-- California remained the state with the most Asians and Pacific Islanders at 3.8 million in 1997. New York was a distant second with 952,736, followed by Hawaii (748,748), Texas (523,972), and New Jersey (423,738).

For questions about the data, contact Larry Sink or Amy Smith (301-457-24610). The Internet address for state data is: For county data:

-- About 29 percent of the population lacked health insurance for at least one month in a 36-month period starting in early 1993 and approximately 4 percent were uninsured for the entire 36 months.

-- The percentages of people who spent at least one month without health insurance were: non-Hispanic Whites (25 percent), African Americans (37 percent) and Hispanics (50 percent).

-- People residing in the South were the most likely to experience one or more months without health insurance (34 percent). The rates for the other regions were: 31 percent in the West, 25 percent in the Northeast, and 24 percent in the Midwest.

For questions about the data, contact Bob Bennefield (301-457-3242). For more information, see Dynamics of Economic Well-Being: Health Insurance, 1993 to 1995 (P70-64. For ordering information, contact Customer Services (301-457-4100). The Internet address is:

-- Nearly $276 billion state government expenditures went to education and $203 billion were spent on public welfare.

-- While California collected more revenue and spent more than any other state, the most revenue and expenditure per capita belonged to Alaska.

-- Florida had the lowest per capita revenues and Texas the lowest per capita expenditures.

For questions about the data, contact David Kellerman (301-457-1502). The data are available on the Internet at:










For the National Institute of Justice, NIST plans to manufacture batches of replica bullets (and, later, cartridges), each bearing almost identical sets of ultra-fine surface marks. The marks are reproductions of scratch-like grooves that a bullet acquires as it exits through the barrel. Unique to each firearm, patterns of these striations can be the next best thing to the proverbial smoking gun. They are the means to matching a bullet recovered at a crime scene to the gun that actually fired it. Detailed optical measurements of these signature patterns yield images that can be compared to images from other firearms stored in databases. However, the highest levels of accuracy are required to make definitive matches. NIST researchers measured the pattern of striations on a fired bullet. They converted their exacting measurements into digital instructions for a computer-controlled cutting program that operated a high-precision diamond-turning machine. On a pair of unblemished bullets, the machine faithfully reproduced the striations, yielding indistinguishable prototypes of Astandard bullets.@ Akin to specialized rulers, future versions of these measurement tools will be used by examiners to check the accuracy of instruments that match bullets to firearms.

Managed by NIST=s Office of Law Enforcement Standards, the standard bullet project is key to creation of a planned integrated ballistics information network for forensics labs.

While industry continually produces better displays, however, equipment used to measure contrast ratios has remained largely unchanged. One culprit is the inherent Aveiling glare,@ sometimes called lens flair, caused by extraneous light reflecting from the surfaces of lenses and other components.

Now NIST physicist Edward Kelley has borrowed a feature from the human eye in attempts to reduce veiling glare in lens systems. Because the eye is filled with liquid, it does not suffer from as much veiling glare typically seen in artificial lens systems. So Kelley built a prototype system containing oil between the lens and the camera=s charge-coupled device, or CCD, sensor.

Initial results showed a dramatic improvement in the camera=s ability to discern contrast ratios; the liquid system was nearly 70 times better than the same system without liquid. Such an innovation might one day enable U.S. manufacturers to better scrutinize displays that they plan on purchasing. Another potential application for a liquid lens system is in the growing market of digital cameras, which typically use CCD sensors.





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