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NEDS Description of Data Elements

PL_NCHS2006 - Patient Location: NCHS Urban-Rural Code, 2006
Documentation Sections:
General Notes
Uniform Values
State Specific Notes
General Notes

PL_NCHS2006 is a six-category urban-rural classification scheme for U.S. counties developed by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) especially for use in health care research. The classification emphasizes urban distinctions and is unique in differentiating between central and fringe counties of large metropolitan areas. Smaller metropolitan counties are subdivided by population. Non-metropolitan counties are divided simply into micropolitan and non-core categories.

The county classifications are based on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) metropolitan/micropolitan assignments as updated through the 2005 revisions (OMB Bulletin No. 06-01). These assignments were refined using information from the Rural-Urban Continuum Code (RUCC) and Urban Influence Code (UIC) of the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and county characteristics from the 2000 Census and 2004 Census Bureau population estimates.

Although the six NCHS categories may conceptually be mapped into the four categories of the PL_UR_CAT4 classification used elsewhere in HCUP, the two schemes are not entirely compatible. A few counties are categorized differently in the two schemes because they are based on inconsistent population estimates produced on different dates,

Additional information about the NCHS classification scheme is available on the Internet at

Uniform Values
VariableDescriptionValueValue Description
PL_NCHS2006Patient Location: NCHS Urban-Rural Code, 20061"Central" counties of metro areas of >=1 million population
2"Fringe" counties of metro areas of >=1 million population
3Counties in metro areas of 250,000-999,999 population
4Counties in metro areas of 50,000-249,999 population
5Micropolitan counties
6Not metropolitan or micropolitan counties
State Specific Notes

Internet Citation: HCUP NEDS Description of Data Elements. Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP). May 2015. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
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Last modified 5/8/15