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New MEPS materials now available from AHRQ

A new report, a data file, and an online statistical brief 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 is a panel survey begun in 1996. It comprises four component surveys: the Household Component, the Medical Provider Component, the Insurance Component, and the Nursing Home Component. The new materials and their availability are described here.

Projecting National Medical Expenditure Survey Data: A Framework for MEPS Projections. MEPS Methodology Report No. 13 (AHRQ Publication No. 02-0009). Moeller, J.F., Cohen, S.B., Hock, E., and others.

This report describes the procedures used to project data from the 1987 NMES household survey to future years. The 1987 NMES provided extensive information on health expenditures by or on behalf of American families and individuals, the financing of these expenditures, and use of services. NMES data have been "aged" based on more recent household population estimates from government sources and data from the National Health Accounts of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The NMES data have been released in public use data sets projected to the years 1996 and 2005. This report describes the categories of expenditures and payment sources in the projected data, the population and expenditure reweighting procedures, and alignment of the 1987 NMES to the 1987 National Health Accounts.

MEPS HC-031, 1999 Full-Year Population Characteristics File.

This file provides information collected on a nationally representative sample of the civilian noninstitutionalized population of the United States for calendar year 1999. The file consists of MEPS survey data obtained in rounds 2, 3, 4, and 5 of panel 3 and rounds 1, 2, and 3 of panel 4 (that is, the rounds for the MEPS panels covering calendar year 1999), and it contains variables pertaining to survey administration, demographics, employment, health status, health insurance, and person-level medical care use counts. The 1999 full-year expenditure and income data will be forthcoming.

Select to access the MEPS HC-031 public use file.

MEPS Statistical Brief on National Estimates of Health Care Quality.

Starting in 2000, a self-administered questionnaire was added to MEPS to collect a variety of health status and health care quality measures. The health care quality measures for this study were taken from the Consumer Assessment of Health Plans Study (CAHPS®), an AHRQ-sponsored instrument to measure quality of care through consumer feedback. AHRQ's Center for Cost and Financing Studies prepared a statistical summary of the national estimates for posting on the agency's Web site. Comparable data summaries for the quality of health care received by children, as collected in the MEPS Parent Administered Questionnaire (PAQ), will be available soon. Examples of summaries include:

Getting urgent care when needed.

In 2000, 34.4 percent of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population age 18 or older reported that they had an illness or injury that needed care right away from a doctor's office, clinic, or emergency room. Just over half of those needing urgent care said they always received care as soon as they wanted. Older people were more likely than adults under age 65 to say they needed urgent care, and of those needing care, older people were more likely than adults under age 65 to say they always received care as soon as they wanted. Among people aged 18-64, those with only public insurance were the most likely to have an illness or injury needing urgent care. Among those getting urgent care, the uninsured were more likely than those with insurance to report sometimes or never receiving urgent care as soon as they wanted.

Receiving needed care in a doctor's office or clinic.

In 2000, 72.3 percent of the survey population aged 18 and over reported going to a doctor's office or clinic to get care in the last 12 months, and those receiving care, 82.6 percent reported that they had no problems receiving the care they or their doctor believed necessary. Those describing their health status as fair/poor were more likely than those who said their health was excellent or good/very good to receive care. Among those receiving care, people describing their health as fair/poor were less likely than those in better health to indicate it was not a problem receiving needed care. Among those age 18-64, the uninsured were less likely than those with public-only insurance or with any private insurance to go for care, and of those receiving care, the uninsured and those with public only coverage were less likely than those with any private insurance to say they had no problem receiving needed care.

Select for more detailed information from the MEPS Statistical Brief (PDF Help).

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