National Medical Expenditure Survey, 1987: Ambulatory Medical Visit Data [Public Use Tape 14.5] (ICPSR 9881)

Principal Investigator(s): United States Department of Health and Human Services. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research


The 1987 NMES provides information on health expenditures by or on behalf of families and individuals, the financing of these expenditures, and each person's use of services. Public Use Tape 14.5 provides three data files containing information on the use of and expenditures for ambulatory medical services reported in the Household Survey. The Household Survey is one of the three major components of the 1987 National Medical Expenditure Survey (NMES). (The other two components are the Survey of American Indians and Alaska Natives [SAIAN] and the Institutional Population Component.) The Household Survey was fielded over four rounds of personal and telephone interviews at four-month intervals. Baseline data on household composition, employment, and insurance characteristics were updated each quarter, and information on all uses of and expenditures for health care services and sources of payment was obtained. An ambulatory visit is defined as a single contact with a medical provider for one or more services in either a hospital outpatient department or emergency room, a setting other than an inpatient hospital (such as a physician's office, a clinic, or a lab), a nursing home, or a person's home. The first file includes visits and telephone calls to physicians' offices (including HMOs and health departments) in settings other than a hospital or at home, and to providers of care (e.g., chiropractors and psychologists). The second file includes visits to hospital outpatient departments, and the third file covers visits to hospital emergency rooms, both regardless of provider type. A record on any of these data files represents a unique ambulatory visit. In addition, each file contains demographic information such as age, sex, and race, dates of visits, medical conditions associated with the visit, and variables such as types of procedures performed and the main reason for the visit.

Series: National Medical Expenditure Survey Series

Access Notes

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DS0:  Study-Level Files
DS1:  Medical Provider Visits - Download All Files (77.026 MB)
DS2:  Hospital Outpatient Visits - Download All Files (43.069 MB)
DS3:  Emergency Room Visits - Download All Files (38.331 MB)
DS4:  Technical and Programming Information and Data Dictionary
No downloadable data files available.
DS5:  SAS Control Cards - Download All Files (35.643 MB)

ASCII + SAS Setup   

Study Description


U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. NATIONAL MEDICAL EXPENDITURE SURVEY, 1987: AMBULATORY MEDICAL VISIT DATA [PUBLIC USE TAPE 14.5]. Rockville, MD: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research [producer], 1992. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1993.

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Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    ambulatory care, doctor visits, emergency services, employment, families, health care costs, health care services, health expenditures, health insurance, health services utilization, household composition, insurance coverage, medical care, payment methods, primary care

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 1987

Date of Collection:   

  • 1987

Universe:    Noninstitutionalized civilian population of the United States.

Data Type(s):    survey data

Data Collection Notes:

Records in these files can be linked to all NMES public use tapes from the Household Survey by using the person identifier (PIDX).


Sample:    Sampled persons from the Household Survey who reported ambulatory medical visits in 1987 and who responded for their entire period of eligibility are included in this dataset. The Household Survey sample is a stratified multistage area probability design with a total sample of roughly 35,000 individuals in 14,000 households who completed all rounds of data collection. Oversampling of population subgroups of special policy interest included poor and low-income families, the elderly, the functionally impaired, and Black and Hispanic minorities.

Data Source:

self-enumerated questionnaires


Original ICPSR Release:   1993-04-09

Version History:

  • 2006-01-18 File CB9881.VOL1.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.

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