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New MEPS statistical briefs available from AHRQ

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has released new statistical briefs from the Agency's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). MEPS is the third in a series of nationally representative surveys of medical care use and expenditures sponsored by AHRQ. MEPS is cosponsored by the National Center for Health Statistics. 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 began in 1996 and is ongoing.

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 MEPS statistical briefs are now available on the MEPS Web site:

  • The Uninsured in America, 2004: Estimates for the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population under Age 65, Statistical Brief #83 (PDF File; PDF Help).
  • The Uninsured in America, 1996-2004: Estimates for the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population under Age 65, Statistical Brief #84 (PDF File; PDF Help).
  • Health Insurance Status of Children in America, 1996-2004: Estimates for the U.S. Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population under Age 18, Statistical Brief #85 (PDF File; PDF Help).

Data from the 2004 MEPS household component indicate that Hispanics make up 15 percent of the U.S. population and almost 29 percent of the uninsured. More than one in three Hispanics is uninsured, and 25 percent have only public health insurance. In addition, Hispanics constitute 36 percent of all uninsured children under 18. Additional MEPS findings indicate that in 2004:

  • White non-Hispanics adults under age 65 made up 65 percent of the U.S. population and almost 50 percent of the uninsured. About one in seven whites was uninsured, and 10 percent had only public insurance.
  • Black non-Hispanic adults under age 65 made up almost 13 percent of the population and almost 15 percent of the uninsured. About one in five blacks was uninsured, and 28 percent had only public insurance.
  • For people under age 65, 19 percent (48 million) were estimated to be without health insurance.
  • For children under age 18, nearly 12 percent (8.5 million) were uninsured. These most recent estimates of children without health insurance were significantly lower than estimates from the previous decade, mostly due to public insurance expansions aimed at children, including Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
  • Young adults aged 19-24 were at greatest risk of being uninsured, with 35 percent having no insurance coverage for the first part of 2004. This lack of coverage was worst for young Hispanic adults, with 56 percent uninsured.

Findings on uninsured Americans in a given year are often presented in three ways: people uninsured for a full year, those ever uninsured during a year, and those uninsured for a specific point in time. The MEPS provides data for all three categories and also covers a 2-year period. The data provided in this most recent MEPS release reflect insurance status for a specific point in time—the first part of 2004.

Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance for Large Employers in the Private Sector, by Industry Classification, 2003, Statistical Brief #89

Data from the MEPS Insurance Component indicate that about 64 percent of American workers in large, private-sector companies (those with 50 or more employees) were enrolled in health insurance plans offered by their employers in 2003, but enrollment rates varied substantially by type of industry.

Enrollment rates ranged from a high of nearly 82 percent in the mining and manufacturing industries to a low of roughly 41 percent of employees in "Other Services Industries"—a category that includes hotel and restaurant workers, sanitation workers, and laundry employees. Enrollment rates in other large employers by industry type were:

  • Wholesale trade (79 percent).
  • Financial services and real estate (77 percent).
  • Transportation (72 percent).
  • Professional services (68 percent).
  • Construction (63 percent).
  • Retail trade (49 percent).

The average employee contribution toward premiums was $627 for single coverage and $2,242 for a family of four, also varying by type of industry.

Editor's Note: To access these statistical briefs and other MEPS products, including MEPS data and research findings, visit the MEPS Web site at

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