For all persons, ERCHGTOT captures the sum of fully established charges for care received from emergency room medical providers during the year. This includes charges for hospital facility expenses (including direct hospital care, including room and board, diagnostic and laboratory work, x-rays, and similar charges, as well as any physician services included in the hospital charge) and "separately billing doctor" or SBD charges (including services provided to patients in hospital settings by providers like radiologists, anesthesiologists, and pathologists, whose charges are often not included in hospital bills). This variable does not usually reflect actual payments made for services, which can be substantially lower due to factors such as negotiated discounts, bad debt, and free care. For more information on how MEPS collects expenditure and charge data, please refer to our user note on medical expenditures.
Note that hospitals usually include expenses associated with emergency room visits that immediately result in an inpatient stay with the charges and payments for the inpatient stay. Therefore, to avoid the potential for double counting when imputing missing expenses, separately reported facility expenditures for emergency room visits that were identified in the Medical Provider Component (MPC) as directly linked to an inpatient stay were included as part of the inpatient stay only (see HPCHGTOT and HPFCHT). This strategy to avoid double counting resulted in $0 facility expenditures for these emergency room visits (but there still may be associated separately-billing doctor expenses). However, these $0 emergency room visits are still counted as separate visits in the utilization variable ERTOTVIS.
Variables related to total annual health care charges by source of payment, total annual health care charges by type of medical service, and analogous information for health care expenditures are also available. Please refer to our user note on medical expenditures for a list of these variables.
ERCHGTOT is a 6-digit numeric variable.
ComparabilityThe comparability of this variable over time has not yet been assessed.
- 2007-2018 : PERWEIGHT