Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS)

Sponsor

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ); and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Mode of Administration

The MEPS Household Component (HC), the core survey, is an interviewer-administered computer-assisted personal interview household survey. The Self-Administered Questionnaire (SAQ) and Diabetes Care Survey (DCS) are supplementary self-administered paper questionnaires.

Survey Sample Design

The sampling frame for the MEPS-HC is drawn from respondents to the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), conducted by NCHS. The MEPS-HC augments NHIS by selecting a sample of NHIS respondents, collecting additional data on their health care expenditures, and linking these data with additional information from the respondents' medical providers, employers, and insurance providers.

Each year a new panel of households is selected from among those households that participated in the previous year's NHIS. Data covering 2 calendar years of information are collected for each new annual sample (referred to as a panel), through a series of five rounds of data collection over a 2 1/2-year period. This series of data collection activities is repeated each year on a new sample of households, resulting in overlapping panels of survey data. MEPS annual data are based on information from two separate panels, the panel that began that year and the panel that began in the previous year.

NHIS provides a nationally representative sample of the U.S. civilian non-institutionalized population, with oversampling of Hispanics and Blacks. Starting in 2006, NHIS oversamples Asians as well. In addition to the oversampling by NHIS, MEPS oversamples policy-relevant groups such as low-income households.

Primary Survey Content

MEPS consists of three component surveys: the HC, the Medical Provider Component, and the Insurance Component. The MEPS-HC collects detailed data on demographic characteristics, health conditions, health status, use of medical care services, charges and payments, access to care, satisfaction with care, health insurance coverage, income, and employment. The data for the NHQR and NHDR are primarily from the following sections of the 2002-2016 MEPS-HC:

Population Targeted

Like the NHIS population from which its sample is drawn, the MEPS-HC is a nationally representative survey of the U.S. civilian non-institutionalized population.

Demographic Data

The MEPS-HC collects data on demographic characteristics, including age, gender, race, ethnicity, education, industry and occupation, employment status, household composition, and family income. Race and ethnicity variables and categories changed in 2002 in compliance with Office of Management and Budget standards.

Years Collected

MEPS is the third in a series of national probability surveys conducted by AHRQ on the financing and use of medical care in the United States. The National Medical Care Expenditure Survey was conducted in 1977, the National Medical Expenditure Survey was conducted in 1987, and MEPS, an annual survey, began in 1996.

Schedule

Annual.

Geographic Estimates

National; four U.S. Census Bureau regions; selected States; metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas; and urban-rural areas, based on frameworks such as the 2006 and 2013 Urban-Rural Classification Scheme for Counties (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data_access/urban_rural.htm).

Notes

Estimates in the NHQR and NHDR Data Tables appendix that are based on MEPS data are weighted to reflect the experiences of the U.S. civilian non-institutionalized population. Standard errors of the estimates were derived using SUDAAN statistical software, which factors in MEPS complex survey design. MEPS estimates are suppressed when they are based on sample sizes of fewer than 100, or when their relative standard errors are 30% or more.

The combined response rate for MEPS, which includes the NHIS response rate, ranged from 46% to 65% during the 2002 to 22016 period.

Contact Information

Agency home page: http://www.ahrq.gov.

Data system home page: http://www.meps.ahrq.gov.

References

Cohen J. Design and methods of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component. MEPS Methodology Report No. 1. Rockville, MD: Agency for Health Care Policy and Research; 1997. AHCPR Publication No. 97-0026. Available at: http://www.meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/data_files/publications/mr1/mr1.pdf.

Cohen JW, Monheit AC, Beauregard KM, et al. The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey: a national health information resource. Inquiry 1996/1997; 33:373-89. Rockville, MD: Agency for Health Care Policy and Research; 1997. AHCPR Publication No. 97-R043.Available at: http://www.meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/data_stats/Pub_ProdResults_Details.jsp?pt=Journal+Articles&opt=3&id=324.

Cohen S. Sample design of the 1996 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component. MEPS Methodology Report No. 2. Rockville, MD: Agency for Health Care Policy and Research; 1997. AHCPR Publication No. 97-0027. Available at: http://www.meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/data_files/publications/mr2/mr2.pdf.

Cohen SB. Sample design of the 1997 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component. MEPS Methodology Report No. 11. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; 2000. AHRQ Publication No. 01-0001. Available at: http://www.meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/data_files/publications/mr11/mr11.pdf.

Ezzati-Rice TM, Rohde F, Greenblatt J. Sample design of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component, 1998-2007. MEPS Methodology Report No. 22. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; March 2008. Available at: http://www.meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/data_files/publications/mr22/mr22.pdf.

Chowdhury, SR, SR Machlin, KL. Gwet. Sample Designs of the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component, 1996-2006 and 2007-2016. Methodology Report 33. Rockville, MD: Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, 2019. https://meps.ahrq.gov/data_files/publications/mr33/mr33.pdf