assessment of the out-of-pocket medical expenditures data was surprisingly good, considering that this survey has had trouble measuring health insurance coverage.

With regard to resources, the CPS does not include everything that one may think of as income. It does not include capital gains, which are picked up in taxes and which MEPS picks up. It does not include a lot of what people withdraw from their retirement accounts, which again is something that is reported on the tax return and taxed, and MEPS picks up some of those items. These are differences that can be important, especially for the elderly, who have a lot of these types of resources.

A critical consideration with regard to the CPS ASEC is that it collects no asset data of any kind and never has. To deal with that deficiency, Czajka thought that, rather than trying to impute assets, it would be better to add a small number of items to the survey. But quality of data cannot be ensured without careful testing. The difficulty with imputation for financial assets is that, in including assets, one is really interested in what people have that is not reflected in their income. But the likelihood is that the imputations will be driven heavily by income. And that does not get the orthogonal piece that is needed. At the same time, it is very challenging to collect asset data, and the idea that one could write a question and get the answer wanted is optimistic. That is a particular problem with the CPS.

MEPS collects sources of income that correspond reasonably closely to the CPS concept of money income. MEPS income questions follow the federal tax form and include capital gains and state tax refunds, which are not counted in CPS money income. Respondents who refer to their tax returns would omit portions of earnings and possibly Social Security benefits excluded from taxation. MEPS collects fewer of the expenses that differentiate money income from disposable income. Like the CPS, however, MEPS does not capture taxes paid (or earned income tax credit received). Unlike the CPS, MEPS collects data on assets. Assets are divided into six broad categories, and amounts are collected for all six types.

One potential concern about MEPS is that, in following the tax return, if people really do pull out their returns, they would be reporting items that do not correspond conceptually to what is picked up in the CPS, which looks at gross income.

Measures of MCER

The CPS ASEC contains a fairly small set of items relating to measuring medical care risk. It added medical out-of-pocket expenditures in 2010. Data compare favorably to MEPS and the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), despite the more detailed measurement in these other surveys. The CPS ASEC collects sources of health insurance coverage in the

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