Study of Medicare beneficiaries validates Medical Expenditure Panel Survey's prescription drug data
Research Activities, June 2012, No. 382
Data on prescription drugs in AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) is reasonably accurate compared with insurance claims data, at least for MEPS participants with Medicare Part D coverage for medications. That's the conclusion of a study by researchers at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). This study follows earlier ones that found that data from MEPS respondents on inpatient hospital stays were generally accurate, though reports of ambulatory services were underreported.
In this study, Steven C. Hill, Ph.D., Samuel H. Zuvekas, Ph.D., and Marc W. Zodet, M.S., found that MEPS survey participants tended to underreport the number of different drugs taken, but overreport the number of times each drug was filled. Because the drug underreporting cut across most sociodemographic groups, they believe it does not affect our understanding of the behavioral determinants of medication use and expenditures.
The researchers matched Medicare beneficiaries in the MEPS sample after Medicare Part D began (2006 and 2007) to Medicare administrative data. For each beneficiary, the researchers examined the number of distinct drugs, number of drug prescription fills, total expenditures, and third-party payments.
More details are in "Implications of the accuracy of MEPS prescription drug data for health services research," by Dr. Hill, Dr. Zuvekas, and Mr. Zodet, in the Fall 2011 Inquiry 48(3), pp. 242-259. Reprints (Publication No. 12-R026) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.