I have looked through several data sources--OSHPD, HCUP, Medicare--looking for any data (restricted or public use) on what uninsured patients "actually" pay (as opposed to what they were initially charged) for their health care services.

So far, all I can find is data on the "total charges". These refer to the patients sum total of his/her chargemaster price billing--not the amount actually paid. Any pointers of where I should look? Whether I should stop looking altogether? or Look closer at something I might have missed in the data sources that I have looked at so far?

EDIT: PLEASE READ To clarify my earlier post--I am looking for a dataset that has both the "initial hospital charge" and "actually paid" amounts by the patient and where you can identify the hospital they went to (at least by a hospital id). If only "actual payment" data is available then I would need to have the hospitals be identified so that I can match it to publicly available chargemaster data (which is to my knowledge currently only available in California).

Any information on the availability (or total absence) of this data would be greatly appreciated!


You are looking for the variables in MEPS (the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey from AHRQ) with the text slf in them. There are both utilization-level files as well as a consolidated person-level file available every year.


  • You can find more information about the TOTSLF variable at meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/data_stats/… Aug 7 '14 at 0:19
  • Thanks Anthony and @Mark for the pointers, I will take a look. Btw do you know if the data that you suggest would allow me to identify the hospitals that the patients went to? I don't need the names, a simple hospital ID would be enough.
    – Seb
    Aug 7 '14 at 16:21
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    @Seb I don't believe so - that is not what MEPS is all about. See meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/about_meps/survey_back.jsp for MEPS background but essentially my understanding is that the most specific entity of the household component is the individual and no information about specific encounters with providers are recorded. A list of variables is available at meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/data_stats/… Aug 7 '14 at 16:27
  • Thanks @Mark. I have edited my initial question to better (see edit at the bottom) explain exactly what I am looking for. In short, the data I need is: what the individual is billed, what he pays, and the hospital that he pays.
    – Seb
    Aug 7 '14 at 16:38
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    @MarkSilverberg that is not correct. meps has encounter-level data ;) google meps inpatient stays file @Seb i'd be surprised if what you're looking for exists as a PUF. if you have funding and can get to the DC area, ask the people here whether they're able to make you an encrypted hospital id variable- meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/data_stats/onsite_datacenter.jsp sorry :/ Aug 7 '14 at 16:52

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