Didem Bernard,¹ Cathy Cowan,² Thomas Selden,¹ Liming Cai,² Aaron Catlin,² and Stephen Heffler²
¹Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality ²Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Objective: Provide a comparison of health care expenditure estimates for 2007 from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) and the National Health Expenditure Accounts (NHEA). Reconciling these estimates serves two important purposes. First, it is an important quality assurance exercise for improving and ensuring the integrity of each source's estimates. Second, the reconciliation provides a consistent baseline of health expenditure data for policy simulations. Our results assist researchers to adjust MEPS to be consistent with the NHEA so that the projected costs as well as budgetary and tax implications of any policy change are consistent with national health spending estimates. Data Sources: The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey produced by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the National Health Center for Health Statistics and the National Health Expenditures produced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service’s Office of the Actuary. Results: In this study, we focus on the personal health care (PHC) sector, which includes the goods and services rendered to treat or prevent a specific disease or condition in an individual. The official 2007 NHEA estimate for PHC spending is $1,915 billion and the MEPS estimate is $1,126 billion. Adjusting the NHEA estimates for differences in underlying populations, covered services, and other measurement concepts reduces the NHEA estimate for 2007 to $1,366 billion. As a result, MEPS is $240 billion, or 17.6 percent, less than the adjusted NHEA total.
Keywords: national health accounts, medical expenditures, health care costs, health financing, health resource