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New MEPS reports are now available from AHRQ

Several new reports are now available from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). MEPS is the third in a series of nationally representative surveys of medical care use and expenditures sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. MEPS is cosponsored by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The first survey, the National Medical Care Expenditure Survey (NMCES), was conducted in 1977; and the second survey, the National Medical Expenditure Survey (NMES) was carried out in 1987.

MEPS collects detailed information on health care use and expenses, sources of payment, and insurance coverage of individuals and families in the United States. MEPS comprises four component surveys: The Household Component, the Medical Provider Component, the Insurance Component, and the Nursing Home Component.

The following two chartbooks, methodology report, and reprint of statistical tables are newly released from the MEPS program. Copies are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.

Health Care Expenses in the Community Population, 1996. MEPS Chartbook No. 5 (AHRQ Publication No. 01-0027). Machlin, S.R., Cohen J.W., Zuvekas, S.H., and others.

This report presents estimates from the MEPS of spending for medical services and supplies in 1996. This kind of detailed information has not been available since data for 1987 were released a decade ago. Charts show overall expenses, per capita expenses, expenses by type of service, and out-of-pocket expenses. In 1996, the average expense per person in the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population (including people with no expenses) was $2,038. The average for people with an expense (about 85 percent of the population) was $2,389. However, median expenses were much lower than average expenses because a small percentage of people incurred a disproportionately large share of medical expenses. Median expenses averaged $395 overall and $566 for people with expenses. Hospital inpatient stays made up the largest share of national health care expenses, followed by ambulatory services from both physician and nonphysician providers. Over 80 percent of medical expenses were paid for by third-party payers, with the remainder being out-of-pocket payments by individuals and their families.

This report is available online on the MEPS Web site.

Nursing Home Expenses, 1987 and 1996. MEPS Chartbook No. 6 (AHRQ Publication No. 01-0029). Rhoades, J.A., and Sommers, J.P.

This report presents estimates from MEPS on changes in nursing home expenses and sources of payment from 1987 to 1996. In that time period, total annual expenses increased from $28 billion to $70 billion, and annual expenses per resident day increased from $56 to $118. Medicare paid a greater portion of the nursing home bill in 1996 than in 1987, and this held for residents in all age and income categories. The share paid by Medicaid decreased for all racial/ethnic groups, particularly for minorities. Residents who were not married, did not own a home, or were covered by Medicaid tended to have higher annual expenses per resident but lower annual expenses per day. In 1996, the lowest annual expenses per resident, but the highest annual expenses per day, were for people residing in the nursing home for the shortest time period (both admitted and discharged during the year or both admitted and dying during the year). Medicare paid the largest proportion of the total nursing home bill for these residents.

This report is available online on the MEPS Web site.

Outpatient Prescription Drugs: Data Collection and Editing in the 1996 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. MEPS Methodology Report No. 12 (AHRQ Publication No. 01-0002). Moeller, J.F., Stagnitti, M.N., Horan E., and others.

For the first time in a national expenditure survey, the 1996 MEPS included a detailed collection of information on prescription medicines obtained from pharmacy providers frequented by household-sampled individuals. The information was collected by means of a linked survey of pharmacy providers. This report describes the procedures adopted to collect and edit these prescription drug data for public release. It includes efforts made to retrieve complete and/or partial missing pharmacy data, the editing techniques used to fill in remaining missing data in the pharmacy database, and the matching/imputation procedure that linked every prescription drug mentioned by the respondent in the MEPS Household Component to a specific prescription drug from the Pharmacy Component (part of the Medical Provider Component).

This report is available online on the MEPS Web site.

Health Care Expenses in the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population, 1997 (AHRQ Publication No. 01-R086). July 2001.

These statistical tables present descriptive data from the MEPS on spending in 1997 for hospital, office-based, home health, and other types of care by source of payment and characteristics of users. Data for all types of health care combined and for each type of service are presented, as follows: events, charges, and expenses for health care services and supplies by event type; total health services; hospital inpatient services; ambulatory services; prescription medications; dental services; home health services; and other medical equipment and services.

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