[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 114 (Tuesday, June 16, 2009)]
[Pages 28504-28506]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-14079]



Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; 
Comment Request

AGENCY: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, HHS.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: This notice announces the intention of the Agency for 
Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to request that the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) approve the proposed information collection 
project: ``2010-2011 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Insurance 
Component.'' In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 44 
U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A), AHRQ invites the public to comment on this 
proposed information collection.

DATES: Comments on this notice must be received by August 17, 2009.

ADDRESSES: Written comments should be submitted to: Doris Lefkowitz, 
Reports Clearance Officer, AHRQ, by e-mail at 
[email protected].
    Copies of the proposed collection plans, data collection 
instruments, and specific details on the estimated burden can be 
obtained from the AHRQ Reports Clearance Officer.

Clearance Officer, (301) 427-1477, or by e-mail at 
[email protected].


Proposed Project

2010-2011 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Insurance Component

    AHRQ seeks to renew the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Insurance 
Component (MEPS-IC) for calendar years 2010 and 2011. The MEPS-IC, an 
annual survey of the characteristics of employer-sponsored health 
insurance, was first conducted by AHRQ in 1997 for the calendar year 
1996. The survey has since been conducted annually for calendar years 
1996 through 2009, except for 2007. A change from prior year collection 
to calendar year collection in 2008 meant that no data were collected 
for the 2007 calendar year, but the change has allowed for much earlier 
release of the survey results for the 2008 calendar year forward. AHRQ 
is authorized to conduct the MEPS-IC pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 299b-2.
    Employment-based health insurance is the source of coverage for 
over 90 million workers and their family members, and is a cornerstone 
of the current U.S. health care system. The MEPS-IC measures the 
extent, cost, and coverage of employment-based health insurance. 
Statistics are produced at the National, State, and sub-State 
(metropolitan area) level.
    The MEPS-IC is designed to provide data for Federal policymakers 
evaluating the effects of National and State health care reforms. It 
also provides descriptive data on the current employment-based health 
insurance system and data for modeling the differential impacts of 
proposed health policy initiatives. The MEPS-IC also supplies critical 
State and National estimates of health insurance spending for the 
National Health Accounts and Gross Domestic Product. Data to be 
collected from each employer will include a description of the 
organization (e.g., size, industry) and descriptions of health 
insurance plans available, plan enrollments, total plan costs and costs 
to employees. This survey will be conducted for AHRQ by the Bureau of 
the Census using an annual sample of employers selected from Census 
Bureau lists of private sector employers and governments.

[[Page 28505]]

    The MEPS-IC is one of three components of the MEPS. The others are 
the Household and Medical Provider Components:
     MEPS Household Component is a sample of households 
participating in the National Health Interview Survey in the prior 
calendar year. These households are interviewed 5 times over a 2\1/2\ 
year period for MEPS. The 5 interviews yield two years of information 
on use of and expenditures for health care, sources of payment for that 
health care, insurance status, employment, health status and health 
care quality.
     MEPS Medical Provider Component collects information from 
medical and financial records maintained by hospitals, physicians, 
pharmacies, health care institutions, and home health agencies named as 
sources of care by household respondents.
    This clearance request is for the MEPS-IC only.

Method of Collection

    Data collection for the MEPS-IC takes place in three phases at each 
sample establishment: Prescreening interview, questionnaire mailout, 
and nonresponse follow-up. An establishment is a single location of a 
private sector or State and local government employer.
    First, a prescreening interview is conducted by telephone. For 
those establishments that offer health insurance, its goal is to obtain 
the name and title of an appropriate person in each establishment to 
whom a MEPS-IC questionnaire will be mailed. For establishments which 
do not offer health insurance, a brief set of questions about 
establishment characteristics is administered at the end of the 
prescreening interview to close out the case. This step minimizes 
burden for many small establishments that do not offer health 
    The next phase, questionnaire mailout, makes use of two forms--one 
requests establishment-level information (e.g., total number of 
employees) and the other requests plan-level information (e.g., the 
plan premium for single coverage) for each plan (up to four) offered by 
the establishment.
    In the final phase, establishments which do not respond to the 
initial MEPS-IC mail questionnaire are mailed a nonresponse follow-up 
package. Those establishments which fail to respond to the second 
mailing are contacted for a telephone follow-up using computer-assisted 
    Data collection for the largest private sector and government 
units, which have high survey response burdens, may differ somewhat 
from the above pattern.

Estimated Annual Respondent Burden

    Exhibit 1 shows the estimated annualized burden hours for the 
respondents' time to provide the requested data. The Prescreener 
questionnaire will be completed by 32,006 respondents and takes about 
5\1/2\ minutes to complete. The Establishment questionnaire will be 
completed by 24,965 respondents and takes about 23 minutes to complete. 
The Plan questionnaire will be completed by 21,437 respondents and will 
require an average of 2.1 responses per respondent. Each Plan 
questionnaire takes about 11 minutes to complete. The total annualized 
burden hours are estimated to be 20,471 hours.
    Exhibit 2 shows the estimated annualized cost burden associated 
with the respondents' time to participate in this data collection. The 
annualized cost burden is estimated to be $546,576.

                                  Exhibit 1--Estimated Annualized Burden Hours
                                                                     Number of
                    Form name                        Number of     responses per     Hours per     Total burden
                                                    respondents     respondent       response          hours
Prescreener Questionnaire.......................          32,006               1            0.09           2,881
Establishment Questionnaire.....................          24,965               1            0.38           9,487
Plan Questionnaire..............................          21,437             2.1            0.18           8,103
    Total.......................................          78,408              na              na          20,471

    Note: The total number of respondents increased from previous 
clearances not due to any increase in sample size, but due to a 
change in the way the number of respondents is reported. While now 
total respondents are the sum of respondents per form, previously 
they were reported as the number of unique establishments completing 
at least one form.

                                   Exhibit 2--Estimated Annualized Cost Burden
                                                     Number of     Total burden   Average hourly    Total cost
                    Form name                       respondents        hours        wage rate*        burden
Prescreener Questionnaire.......................          32,006           2,881           26.70         $76,923
Establishment Questionnaire.....................          24,965           9,487           26.70         253,303
Plan Questionnaire..............................          21,437           8,103           26.70         216,350
    Total.......................................          78,408          20,471              na         546,576
* Based upon the mean wage for Compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists, civilian workers, National
  Compensation Survey: Occupational Earnings in the United States, 2007, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of
  Labor Statistics.

Estimated Annual Costs to the Federal Government

    Exhibit 3 shows the estimated total and annualized cost for this 
two year project. The annual cost to the Federal Government is 
estimated to be $10.3 million.

[[Page 28506]]

      Exhibit 3--Estimated Total and Annualized Cost ($ Thousands)
             Cost component                 Total cost         cost
Project Development.....................          $3,099          $1,550
Data Collection Activities..............           7,230           3,615
Data Processing and Analysis............           7,230           3,615
Project Management......................           2,066           1,033
Overhead................................           1,033             517
    Total...............................          20,658          10,329

    Note: Components may not sum to Total due to rounding.

Request for Comments

    In accordance with the above-cited Paperwork Reduction Act 
legislation, comments on AHRQ's information collection are requested 
with regard to any of the following: (a) Whether the proposed 
collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of 
AHRQ health care research, quality improvement and information 
dissemination functions, including whether the information will have 
practical utility; (b) the accuracy of AHRQ's estimate of burden 
(including hours and costs) of the proposed collection(s) of 
information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of 
the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of 
the collection of information upon the respondents, including the use 
of automated collection techniques or other forms of information 
    Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized 
and included in the Agency's subsequent request for OMB approval of the 
proposed information collection. All comments will become a matter of 
public record.

    Dated: June 4, 2009.
Carolyn M. Clancy,
[FR Doc. E9-14079 Filed 6-15-09; 8:45 am]