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Introducing the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey-Insurance Component with Administrative Records (MEPS-ICAR): Description, Data Construction Methodology, and Quality Assessment

Center for Economic Studies WORKING PAPER NUMBER CES-22-29
This report introduces a new dataset, the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey-Insurance Component with Administrative Records (MEPS-ICAR), consisting of MEPS-IC survey data on establishments and their health insurance benefits packages linked to Decennial Census data and administrative tax records on MEPS-IC establishments’ workforces. These data include new measures of the characteristics of MEPS-IC establishments’ parent firms, employee turnover, the full distribution of MEPS-IC workers’ personal and family incomes, the geographic locations where those workers live, and improved workforce demographic detail.

Next, this report details the methods used for producing the MEPS-ICAR. Broadly, the linking process begins by matching establishments’ parent firms to their workforces using identifiers appearing in tax records. The linking process concludes by matching establishments to their own workforces by identifying the subset of their parent firm’s workforce that best matches the expected size, total payroll, and residential geographic distribution of the establishment’s workforce.
Finally, this report presents statistics characterizing the match rate and the MEPS-ICAR data itself. Key results include that match rates are consistently high (exceeding 90%) across nearly all data subgroups and that the matched data exhibit a reasonable distribution of employment, payroll, and worker commute distances relative to expectations and external benchmarks. Notably, employment measures derived from tax records, but not used in the match itself, correspond with high fidelity to the employment levels that establishments report in the MEPS-IC. Cumulatively, the construction of the MEPS-ICAR significantly expands the capabilities of the MEPS-IC and presents many opportunities for analysts.  

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