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National Survey Details Americans' Experiences with Health Care for Chronic Conditions

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Press Release Date: August 14, 2002

New data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) indicate that 23 percent of Americans aged 18 and older report that they have high blood pressure. The self-reported data, which come from AHRQ's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), also indicate that 10.3 percent report that they have heart disease; 9.1 percent, asthma; and 6.2 percent, diabetes. The data are included in a statistical brief titled Medical Care and Treatment for Chronic Conditions, 2000.

MEPS collects information annually on health care use, access, health status and quality from a nationally representative sample of people. The survey includes people living in American households, which does not include people living in nursing homes (or other long-term health facilities), in prisons, or serving in the active military. The survey does include families of active-duty military personnel.

Beginning in 2000, MEPS was enhanced to collect data from people about selected chronic conditions and the preventive services or treatments they use. These new measures will enable researchers to perform in-depth analyses on the quality of health care received by Americans and will be included in the National Quality Report, which will be published for the first time in 2003.

The detailed findings from 2000 include:

  • Nearly 43 percent of people aged 18 and older with public insurance reported that they have high blood pressure, compared with 21.5 percent of people with any private insurance and 13.2 percent of the uninsured.
  • Hispanics aged 18 and older were less likely than blacks or whites and people of other races to report having heart disease, high blood pressure, or asthma.
  • Both Hispanics and blacks aged 18 and older were more likely than whites and people of other races to report having diabetes.
  • Uninsured people with diabetes aged 18-64 were less likely than those with private insurance to report having had a Hemoglobin A1C test, or to have had their feet checked for sores or irritations.
  • Among people with heart disease, those aged 65 and older were more likely than those aged 18-64 to report that they had their blood pressure checked in the last year (98.6 percent vs. 92.9 percent). People aged 65 and older with heart disease also were more likely to have had a routine checkup in the past 12 months than those aged 18-64 with heart disease (89.2 percent vs. 75.3 percent).
  • Of people aged 18 and older who had a stroke, 58.7 percent reported that they had been advised by a medical provider to exercise more; 59.1 percent reported that they had been advised to change their diet.

The statistical brief is available on the Web at

For more information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs, (301) 427-1364: Karen Carp, (301) 427-1858 (


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