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New MEPS chartbook, insurance component data, and public use files are now available

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has published a new Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) chartbook on job-related health insurance, released 1999 data from the MEPS Insurance Component, and made available three new public use files. 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 (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 new MEPS resources and information on accessing them are described here.

State Differences in Job-Related Health Insurance. MEPS Chartbook No. 7. Branscome, J.M. and Brown, Jr., E.

This report presents estimates of workers' access to job-related health insurance, the cost of that insurance, and the choice of plans available to workers in 1998. Key findings include:

  • Establishments in Hawaii were the most likely to offer job-related insurance to at least some of their employees.
  • In every State, establishments in large firms were more likely to offer health insurance than those in small firms.
  • Establishments in Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Texas were the least likely to offer insurance to their employees.
  • The national average premium was $2,173 for single coverage and $5,590 for family coverage.
  • Total premiums for both single and family coverage were highest in the Northeastern United States and lowest in the South and Midwest.
  • Employees in Massachusetts made the highest contributions for single coverage; those in the District of Columbia, Florida, and Texas made the highest contributions for family coverage.
  • Approximately 68 percent of establishments offered workers only one plan.
  • Conventional indemnity plans were most common in Wyoming, Alaska, and Idaho, where managed care plans do not have a strong presence.

Print copies of the chartbook (AHRQ Publication No. 01-0036) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse. Select to access the chartbook online.

MEPS 1999 Insurance Component Data

AHRQ has released summary information on the average health insurance premiums for employer-sponsored coverage for calendar year 1999, based on data from AHRQ's MEPS Insurance Component (MEPS IC). The MEPS IC includes a sample of businesses and governments throughout the United States each year beginning in 1996. From these data, national, regional, and State-level estimates can be made of the amount, types, and costs of health insurance available to Americans through their workplace. Highlights from the findings on private-sector employers follow:

  • The average health insurance premiums in 1999 were $2,325 for single coverage and $6,058 for family coverage. Premiums increased 6.9 percent and 8.4 percent, respectively, over premiums in 1998, continuing a trend of increasing premiums each year since 1996.
  • The average employee contributions to health insurance premiums in 1999 were $420 for single coverage and $1,438 for family coverage. Employee contributions increased 9.6 percent and 4.0 percent, respectively, over 1998, continuing the trend from previous years.
  • Employers with less than 50 employees increased their employees' contributions towards premiums for single coverage at a significantly higher rate than larger employers. Employee contributions for family coverage did not change significantly from 1998.
  • The percent of individual business establishments offering health insurance continued to increase slightly. However, the percent of individual business establishments offering a choice of plans dropped after 3 prior years of reported increases.
  • The number of employers offering health insurance to their retirees (both under and over 65 years of age) continued to drop.

More 1999 information on private-sector employers, as well as information on public-sector employers, is available in tabular form on the MEPS Web site, or contact Jim Branscome at Data from the 1996, 1997, and 1998 MEPS IC are available through MEPSnet/IC, an interactive analytical tool.

MEPS Public Use Files

MEPS HC-024: 1996 Person-Round-Plan File (Released September 2001). MEPS HC-024 is available for download only.

This public use data file contains data for each person with private health insurance reported in rounds 1, 2, and 3 of the 1996 MEPS Household Component (MEPS HC). Released as an ASCII file with SAS format statements and in SAS transport format, this public use file provides information collected on a nationally representative sample of the civilian noninstitutionalized population of the United States during calendar year 1996. The HC-024 file contains records for people insured through establishments providing hospital/physician, Medigap, dental, prescription medication, or long-term care coverage and includes variables pertaining to managed care and satisfaction with plan coverage.

1997 MEPS/1995 and 1996 NHIS Link File.

This file contains a crosswalk that will allow data users to merge the 1997 full-year MEPS public use data files with the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) 1995/1996 public use data files. In this linkage file, a record exists for each person included in the 1995 NHIS or 1996 NHIS respondent person sample or in the 1997 MEPS HC-020 public use file, which covers calendar year 1997 and contains data from rounds 1, 2, and 3 of the 1997 panel (which uses the 1996 NHIS as its sampling frame) combined with data from rounds 3, 4, and 5 of the 1996 panel (which uses the 1995 NHIS as its sampling frame). Confidentiality forms must be filled out and returned to AHRQ before this file can be obtained.

Select to access the Data Center for application information.

MEPS HC-014: 1996 MEPS-HC Survey Data.

This CD-ROM contains the following MEPS HC public use files released by AHRQ for calendar year 1996: the 1996 Full-Year Consolidated Data File (HC-012); the 1996 Event Files (HC-010A through HC-010I); the 1996 Medical Conditions File (HC-006R); the 1996 Jobs File (HC-007); and the 1996 Health Insurance Plan Abstraction (HIPA) Linked Data File (HC-017). For each of these releases, the following files are included: a README file, data file(s) in ASCII and SAS transport format, documentation and codebook(s), and a file containing SAS programming statements and sample code for SAS users. Also included are these additional files: the data collection instrument for the MEPS HC rounds 1-5; matrix files containing a summary of all data items on the 1996 MEPS HC files; and self-executable software for use with portable document formatted (PDF) files. This free CD-ROM (AHRQ No. 01-DP05) is available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.

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