Frequently Asked Questions

Check to find the answers to your questions about the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) programs and activities. You can search by category or key words. You can also send us your questions or website feedback here. We will respond to your requests based on the best available scientific evidence and research from our Agency.

AHRQ cannot provide diagnoses or specific medical advice to individuals on their personal health conditions and situations.

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The MEPS data files are posted on the MEPS website in PDF, HTML, and ASCII format, or as data files in ASCII format containing programming statements in SAS, STATA, and SPSS. Some files may be compressed ("exe" extension) or "zipped" ("zip" extension) to reduce downloading time.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) is committed to improving the Nation's health care system. In recent years, many important changes have taken place in:

  • The ways people choose their providers of medical care.
  • The ways in which health care is paid for.
  • The Affordable Care Act (ACA).
  • The kinds of health insurance plans available and the services covered by those plans.

These and other changes have created a critical need for continuous up-to-date information on the types of health care people obtain and how this care is paid for. MEPS is designed to provide this information to the public, the health care community, and leaders in government and the private sector.

Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) data are used by a wide variety of researchers and policy analysts in both the private and public sectors. After individually identifying information has been removed, MEPS data are made available to researchers through an annual series of Public Use Files. The series includes files with data on health insurance coverage at a point-in-time, the use of health care services during the calendar year, and expenditures for health care during the calendar year. Additional files provide information on health care events, health conditions, employment characteristics, and other aspects of the MEPS household samples.

Staff at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the agency with primary responsibility for the project, provides a wide range of services to support users of MEPS data.

The MEPS Survey Background provides basic information on the surveys that preceded MEPS as well as information on when MEPS began, how data are collected, the different components of MEPS, the design of the survey, and availability of the survey data.

The HCUP databases are built from hospital administrative data (i.e., hospital billing records). The databases cover hospital inpatient care, outpatient emergency department care, and ambulatory surgery from hospital-owned facilities. Some State Ambulatory Surgery Databases (SASD) include ambulatory surgery data from facilities not owned by a hospital. HCUP does not include services provided in physician offices, and does not contain complete or reliable pharmacy, laboratory, pathology, or radiology information.

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You also can check the HCUP News and Events page for updates.

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