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Performance Detail: HCQO (continued)

Performance Budget Submission for Congressional Justification, Fiscal

This appendix provides more detailed performance information for all HHS measures related to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's budget.

Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS)

Long-Term Objective 1:

#Key OutcomesFY 2004 ActualFY 2005 ActualFY 2006FY 2007FY 2008 TargetFY 2009 TargetOut-Year Target
1.3.16Insurance Component tables will be available within�months of collection7766666Re-establish baseline—new design2010
1.2.4MEPS Use and Demographic Files will be available months after final data collection12111111111111112010
1.3.18Number of months after the date of completion of the MEPS data will be available12111111111111112010
1.3.20Increase the number of MEPS Data Users


10 active Data Center Projects (DCP)

15,900 Tables Compendia (TC)

13,101 HC/IC Net

14 DCP

16,200 TC

11,600 HC/IC

Exceed baseline standard

33 DCP

19,989 TCP

14,809 HC/IC

Exceed baseline standardNeed to establish new baseline—Web site redesignEstablish new baselineExceed baseline standard2010


#Key OutputsFY 2004 ActualFY 2005 ActualFY 2006FY 2007FY 2008 Target/Est.FY 2009 Target/Est.Out-Year Target/Est.
1.3.21Reductions in time will occur for the Point-in-time, Utilization and Expenditure filesN/AN/A12 months12 months11 months11 months11 months11 monthsNA
1.3.19Increase the number of topical areas tables included in the MEPS Tables CompendiaQuality Tables addedAccess Tables addedAdd State TablesState Tables addedAdd Insurance TablesInsurance Tables addedAdd Prescribed Drug TablesAdd additional State level tablesTBD

Appropriated Amount
($ Million)


The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), first funded in 1995 is the only national source for annual data on how Americans use and pay for medical care. It supports all of AHRQ's research related strategic goal areas. The survey collects detailed information from families on access, use, expense, insurance coverage and quality.� Data are disseminated to the public through printed and Web-based tabulations, micro data files and research reports/journal articles.

The data from the MEPS have become a linchpin for the public and private economic models projecting health care expenditures and utilization.� This level of detail enables public and private sector economic models to develop national and regional estimates of the impact of changes in financing, coverage, and reimbursement policy, as well as estimates of who benefits and who bears the cost of a change in policy.� No other surveys provide the foundation for estimating the impact of changes on different economic groups or special populations of interest, such as the poor, elderly, veterans, the uninsured, or racial/ethnic groups.

Government and non-governmental entities rely upon these data to evaluate health reform policies, the effect of tax code changes on health expenditures and tax revenue, and proposed changes in government health programs such as Medicare. In the private sector (e.g., RAND, Heritage Foundation, Lewin-VHI, and the Urban Institute), these data are used by many private businesses, foundations and academic institutions to develop economic projections. These data represent a major resource for the health services research community at large.

Since 2000, data on premium costs from the MEPS Insurance Component have been used by the Bureau of Economic Analysis to produce estimates of the gross domestic product (GDP) for the Nation.� In addition, the MEPS establishment surveys have been coordinated with the National Compensation Survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics through participation in the Inter-Departmental Work Group on Establishment Health Insurance Surveys.

Because of the need for timely data, performance goals for MEPS have focused on providing data in a timely manner. The MEPS program has met or exceeded all of its data timeliness goals. These performance goals require the release of the MEPS Insurance component tables within 7 months of data collection; the release of MEPS Use and Demographic Files within 12 months of data collection; the release of MEPS Full Year Expenditure data within 12 months of data collection.

In addition, the program has expanded the depth and breadth of data products available to serve a wide range of users.� To date, almost 200 statistical briefs have been published.� The MEPS data table series has expanded to include 8 topic areas on the household component and 9 topic areas on the Insurance Component. In addition, specific large State and metro area expenditure and coverage estimates have been produced, further increasing the utility of MEPS within the existing program costs. Since its inception in 1996, MEPS has been used in several hundred scientific publications, and many more unpublished reports.

  • The MEPS has been used to estimate the impact of the recently passed Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (the effect of the MMA on availability of retiree coverage), by the Iowa Rural Policy Institute (effect of the MMA on rural elderly) and by researchers to examine levels of spending and co-payments (Curtis, et al, Medical Care, 2004).
  • The MEPS data has been used extensively by the Congressional Budget Office, Department of Treasury, Joint Taxation Committee and Department of Labor to inform Congressional inquires related to health care expenditures, insurance coverage and sources of payment and to analyze potential tax and other implications of Federal Health Insurance Policies.
  • MEPS data on health care quality, access and health insurance coverage have been used extensively in the Department's two annual reports to Congress, the National Healthcare Disparities Report and the National Healthcare Quality Report.
  • The MEPS has been used in Congressional testimony on the impact of health insurance coverage rate increases on small businesses.
  • The MEPS data have informed studies of the value of health insurance in private markets and the effect of consumer payment on health care, which directly align with the Health Care Value Incentives Component of the HHS Priorities for America's Health Care and the Secretary's 500 Day Plan Priority of Transforming the Health Care System.
  • The MEPS Insurance Component (MEPS-IC) has been used by a number of States in evaluating their own private insurance issues including eligibility and enrollment by the State of Connecticut and by the Maryland Health Care Commission; and community rating by the State of New York.� As part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's State Coverage Initiative, MEPS data was cited in 69 reports, representing 27 States.
  • The MEPS data has been used extensively by the Government Accountability Office to determine trends in Employee Compensation, with a major focus on the percentage of employees at establishments that offer health insurance, the percentage of eligible employees who enroll in the health insurance plans, the average annual premium for employer-provided health insurance for single workers, and the employees' share of these premiums.
  • MEPS data have been used in HHS Reports to Congress on expenditures by sources of payment for individuals afflicted by conditions that include acute respiratory distress syndrome, arthritis, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, diabetes, and heart disease.
  • MEPS data are used to develop estimates provided in the Consumers Checkbook Guide to Health Plans, of expected out of pocket costs (premiums, deductibles and copays) for Federal employees and retirees for their health care. The Checkbook is an annual publication that provides comparative information on the health insurance choices offered to Federal workers and retirees.
  • MEPS data has been used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others to evaluate the cost of common conditions including arthritis, injuries, diabetes, obesity and cancer.

Before AHRQ reorganized research portfolios, MEPS was part of the Data Collection and Dissemination portfolio. This portfolio received a PART review in 2002, and received a Moderately Effective rating. The review cited the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) as a strong attribute of the program. As a result of the PART review, the program continues to take actions to reduce the number of months that MEPS data is made available after the date of completion of the survey, increase the number of MEPS data users, and increase the number of topical areas tables included in the MEPS Tables Compendia. For more information on programs that have been evaluated based on the PART process, go to

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Page last reviewed February 2008
Internet Citation: Performance Detail: HCQO (continued): Performance Budget Submission for Congressional Justification, Fiscal . February 2008. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


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