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MEPS Home Medical Expenditure Panel Survey
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MEPS-MPC Sample Design and Data Collection Process

Overview and data collection 

The Medical Provider Component (MPC) of MEPS is a survey of hospitals, physicians, and other medical facilities that provided care to sampled household members in the course of the survey year. Patients in sampled households were asked to sign permission forms authorizing contact with their health care providers. The purpose of the MPC is to supplement, verify, and/or replace information provided by household respondents about the charges, payments, and sources of payment associated with specific health care encounters. This is important because people cannot always accurately answer questions about the health services they received and about the cost of those services. The data collected from the MPC are not designed to be nationally representative. The information is used solely for editing and imputation purposes on the Household Component. Therefore, these data will not be released in a stand-alone file. These data are collected once for each calendar year of data, during the year following the reference year.

The following types of care and providers are included in the MPC sample:
  • Office-based medical doctors (MDs), doctors of osteopathy (DOs), and other medical providers under the supervision of MDs and DOs
  • Hospital facilities providing inpatient, outpatient and emergency room care; for hospital care, the provider was defined so as to include both the hospital facility and all individually identified physicians who treated the patient at the hospital, but who bill separately
  • Home care agencies
  • Long-term health care institutions
  • Pharmacies
Dentists, optometrists, psychologists, podiatrists, chiropractors and others not providing care under the supervision of an MD or DO are considered out of scope for the MPC.

The MPC sample is designed to target specific types of individuals and providers for whom sampled household members reported expenditure data. All hospitals, long-term health care institutions, home care agencies, and pharmacies that provided services to household respondents are included in the MPC. Office based providers are subsampled at varying rates due to budget constraints. In addition, since household respondents are unable to report Medicaid payment data, all providers associated with a household that reported receiving Medicaid payments are included in the sample. Once a household is selected for the sample, all in-scope medical care providers associated with care to persons in those households become part of the MPC sample.

The MPC questionnaires are designed to obtain information on both the medical and financial characteristics of medical events. For office and hospital events, this includes diagnoses, procedure and inpatient stay codes (CPT-4s and DRGs), charges or charge equivalents (where available) before any contractual adjustments or discounts, sources and amounts of all payments made, and the reasons for any difference between charges and payments. The home care questionnaire asks for the type of practitioner who provided the service and the number of hours of service or visits provided during the applicable month; charges and payments also are collected on a monthly basis. The pharmacy questionnaire asks for each medication listed: date filled, national drug code (NDC), medication name, strength of medicine (amount and unit), quantity (package size/amount dispensed), and payments and amounts by source. However, when possible, a patient profile (a computer generated printout of a person's drug purchases) is requested to make the request less burdensome on the provider. Generally, patient profiles contain all the data elements requested in the questionnaire.

The MPC will serve as an imputation source to reduce the level of bias in survey estimates of medical expenditures due to item non-response and household data of questionable quality. Its purpose is to supplement household reported data and it is not intended to be an independent sample of providers for estimation purposes.

Questionnaires used in the MEPS MPC 

Home Care Health Care Provider Event Form is used to collect data from home health care agencies which provide medical care services to household respondents. Information collected includes type of personnel providing care, hours or visits provided per month, and the charges and payments for services received.

Home Care Provider Event Form for Non-health Care Providers. This is used to collect information about services provided in the home by non-health care workers to household respondents because of a medical condition; for example, cleaning or yard work, transportation, shopping, or child care. Charges and payments for services received are also collected.

Institutional Event Form for Non-hospital Facilities. This is used to collect information on services and expenditures for persons from the household sample who were admitted to a nursing home, rehabilitation center, or other non-hospital long term health care facility during the survey year.

Office-based Provider Event Form. This is used to collect data from the office-based physician sample, including doctors of medicine (MDs) and osteopathy (DOs), as well as providers practicing under the direction or supervision of an MD or DO (e.g.,physician assistants and nurse practitioners working in clinics). Providers of care in private offices as well as staff model HMOs are included.

Separately Billing Doctors Event Form. Information from physicians identified by hospitals as providing care to sampled persons during the course of inpatient, outpatient department or emergency room care, but who bill separately from the hospital, is collected in these questionnaires.

Hospital Event Form. This is used to collect information about hospitals events, including inpatient stays, outpatient department and emergency room visits. Hospital data are collected not only from the billing department, but the medical records and administrative records departments as well. Medical records is contacted to determine the names of all the doctors who treated the patient during a stay or visit. In many cases, the hospital administrative office also has to be contacted to determine whether the doctors identified by medical records billed separately from the hospital itself. HMO hospitals are included in the data collection effort.

Pharmacies and other sources of prescribed medicines Event Form. Pharmacy data collection focuses on the request for a patient profile (a computer generated listing of the prescriptions dispensed to a given customer). Date filled, NDC, medicine name, other drug characteristics and sources, and amount of payments are collected. Pharmacy data collection includes drug stores, grocery stores, discount stores, mail order, online, clinics, HMOs and hospitals.

Suggested Citation:
MEPS-MPC Sample Design and Data Collection Process. October 2004. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.meps.ahrq.gov/survey_comp/mpc_ data_collection.jsp