Introduction to the Use of MEPS (Medical Expenditure Panel Survey)

Introduction to the Use of MEPS (Medical Expenditure Panel Survey)

Patricia Cerrito (University of Louisville, USA) and John Cerrito (Kroger Pharmacy, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-905-7.ch003


We will begin with data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and use it throughout the text. This dataset has been provided since 1996 and contains yearly information concerning every interaction with the healthcare profession for a cohort of approximately 30,000 patients and 11,000 households. Each household is included in the survey for a two-year period. It contains every inpatient and outpatient event, all physician visits, medications, and lab orders for every member of this cohort. It is usually two years behind, so that in 2008, medication information concerning Medicare, Part D from 2006 first became available for analysis. Because of patient privacy, patient treatment and diagnosis information is incomplete. However, this database contains very complete information about reimbursements from private insurers, government agencies, and individual patients. Therefore, it can be used to determine healthcare expenditures by individuals and households.
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Preprocessing Methods For Meps

In this chapter, we look at how the information is downloaded from the web site and how multiple datasets in the MEPS collection can be merged and appended for longitudinal analyses. The MEPS is available through a download from In the case of MEPS data, the datasets are available in SAS format, or in SPSS format. SAS and SPSS coding are provided to translate the datasets into usable files. In addition, data dictionaries are readily available to enable you to understand the data.

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