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Performance Budget Submission for Congressional Justification

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Key Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Products

Product: MEPS Household Component
Significance: Full year household component released for 1996 and 1997. Partial data released for 1996-99.

Key Findings, 1996:
  • Inpatient hospital care accounts for nearly 4 of 10 dollars spent on health care; Prescribed medications account for about 13 percent of total expenditures.
  • About 86 percent of the U.S. civilian population had health care expenses. While the average expense was $2,398 per capita, half of all people had expenses under $559.
  • 19.6 percent of privately insured children in single-parent families get health insurance coverage from a policyholder not residing in their household.
  • Almost 53 percent of children covered by Medicaid have at least one parent that works.
  • A greater percentage of workers are being offered health insurance by their employers in 1996 than in 1987; however, a smaller proportion is accepting insurance.
  • Nearly 18 percent of the population had no usual source of health care in 1996 and about 12 percent of families reported barriers to receiving needed health services.
  • In 1996, 77.5 percent of children with a usual source of health care had at least one ambulatory visit, compared to 43.3 percent those without a usual source of care.
  • Indicative of higher health care utilization rates during the last months of life, the average number of ambulatory visits for persons who died is about 2.5 higher than the rest of the population.
  • Only 43.2 percent of the population received dental care in 1996.

Key Findings, 1997:

  • During the first half of 1997, nearly 30 percent of children under age 4, one in four children ages 4-6, and close to one in five children ages 7-12 had public health insurance coverage.
  • Young adults (19-24) were most likely to lack health insurance. Over a third of young adults (34.6 percent) were uninsured.
  • 78.7 percent of workers were covered by private health insurance, compared to half of individuals who were not employed.
  • Among all racial/ethnic groups, Hispanic males were the most likely to be uninsured; 36.9 percent lacked coverage.

Key Findings, 1998:

  • Over one half of elderly Americans were covered by private insurance; more than 4 in 10 held only public coverage (Medicare with or without Medicaid). This is represents a decline in private coverage from 1997 and an increase in public coverage.
  • Less than half of all Hispanic Americans and about half of black Americans were covered by private health insurance, compared to three quarters of whites.
  • Close to a third (31.8 percent) of Hispanics and a fifth of blacks were uninsured. In contrast only 12 percent of whites were without insurance.

Key Findings, 1999:

  • Among those under 65, 82.1 percent of Americans had public or private insurance coverage.
  • Among adults under 65, married persons were more likely to have health insurance.

Product: MEPS Insurance Component
Significance: Data available for 1996 through 1998.

Key Findings

  • The average health insurance premium in 1996 was $1,997 for single coverage and $4,953 for a family; in 1998 the single premium was $2,174 and the family premium was $5,590.
  • Nationwide, the employee contribution rate has not changed significantly from 1996 through 1998. Employers continue to share premium costs with their employees at the same level.
  • In every State, establishments in large firms were more likely to offer health insurance than those in small firms. Differences in offer rates between States are driven primarily by the small firms in those States.
  • Establishments in Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Louisiana, New Mexico and Texas were less likely to offer insurance to their employees.
  • Approximately 68 percent of establishments in the Nation that offer insurance, offer only one plan. Establishments in California and Hawaii are most likely to offer workers a choice of plans.
  • Conventional indemnity plans are most common in Wyoming, Alaska and Idaho.
  • 21.8 percent of all establishments that offered health insurance offered their employees a choice of plans.
  • Smaller firms are less likely to offer health insurance to their employees, but there are significant variations from State to State.
  • Data is now used in calculation of Gross Domestic Product.

Product: MEPS Data Center
Significance: Beginning in 2000, MEPS data not available for broad public distribution are available to researchers and others with approved projects on site at AHRQ. Data are used in a tightly controlled, supervised environment. Permits more use of the data by a broad range of users.


Product: MEPS Workshops
Significance: Since 1999, MEPS staff have provided training in how to use this data to nearly 300 researchers and policymakers. These sessions have ranged from 3-hour seminar style presentations to 2-day hands-on practical learning situations. While most of these seminars have been in the Washington, DC, metro area, we have also conducted workshops in Georgia, California, and Illinois.


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