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The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), presented by the Agency of Research and Quality, provides extensive data related to the cost and use of healthcare and health insurance coverage in the United States. Yearly data have been added to this survey since 1996. The survey provides general users, researchers, policymakers, and media representatives with information related to household and insurance components.


Household data include demographic characteristics, health conditions, health status, the use of medical services, payment sources and charges, access to care, satisfaction with care received, income, employment, and health insurance coverage. The insurance component includes data gathered from private and public employers reporting the numbers and types of insurance plans offered; premiums paid with differential contributions from employers and employees; and insurance eligibility requirements, benefits, and employer characteristics. Downloadable and interactive data files are provided for national, regional, state, and metropolitan areas.


The MEPS Web site ( provides directions for users to assist with accessing the data and choosing the correct data files for examination. An index of topics associated with the data includes children's healthcare, elderly healthcare, costs, disparities, maternal health, mental health, obesity, and prescription drug use and costs.


This Web site provides an accessible and useful resource for nursing faculty and students. Assignments or in-class activities can be developed to examine and analyze both current and longitudinal information provided on this site.


Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Daily Digest Bulletin. January 12, 2012. AHRQ. What's new at MEPS-update from 12/23/11 to 01/12/12. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ): [email protected]. Accessed January 13, 2011.


Submitted by: Robin E. Pattillo, PhD, RN, CNL, News Editor at [email protected].