Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS)
If you have been contacted to participate in the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) and would like to verify your selection in this study, please contact NORC toll free at 1-877-389-3429. If an interviewer has contacted you and you would like to verify them, please visit our respondent care website at NORC Respondent Care Center,
This survey is authorized by section 1875 (42 USC 139511) of the Social Security Act and is conducted by NORC for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The OMB Number for this survey is 0938-0568 and expires 6/30/2022.
The Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) is a continuous, multipurpose survey of a nationally representative sample of the Medicare population, conducted by the Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics (OEDA) of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) through a contract with NORC at the University of Chicago. The central goals of the MCBS are to determine expenditures and sources of payment for all services used by Medicare beneficiaries, including co-payments, deductibles, and non-covered services; to ascertain all types of health insurance coverage and relate coverage to sources of payment; and to trace outcomes over time, such as changes in health status and spending down to Medicaid eligibility and the impacts of Medicare program changes on satisfaction with care and usual source of care.
The MCBS has been collecting data on Medicare beneficiaries for over 25 years and has conducted over 1 million interviews. Beginning with the 2015 MCBS, the files have improved user documentation, user friendly file structures, and an updated Chart Book. Note that to accommodate changes in sampling and data collection methodologies the 2014 MCBS data are not being released. For more information, please read our CMS Blog post: (/blog/medicare-current-beneficiary-survey-celebrating-our-25th-anniversary-and-bright-future-ahead).
The MCBS has three data releases annually. The MCBS provides a public use file (PUF) and accompanying documentation free for download on the MCBS PUF page. The MCBS PUF is an easy to use data file with select data items that allow researchers to conduct analysis on access to and satisfaction with healthcare, and medical conditions for community dwelling Medicare beneficiaries. Additionally, there are two detailed data releases from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) that are released annually which can be obtained directly from CMS and require a data use agreement. All research requests for MCBS data for the two limited access data releases must be requested through the Limited Data Set File Process. You will find instructions here: Limited Data Set (LDS) Files.
MCBS Survey File - 2015-2018 Now Available, 2019 Available Summer 2021
The MCBS Survey File contains survey collected data augmented with administrative data to allow for analysis regarding the beneficiaries’ health status, access to health care, satisfaction with health care and usual source of care. The following information is contained in the MCBS Survey File: Beneficiary Demographics, Household Characteristics, Access to Care, Satisfaction with Care, Usual Source of Care, Health Insurance Timeline (shows types of insurances, the coverage eligibility, and what is covered), Health Status and Functioning and other topical survey sections like Medical Conditions, Health Behaviors, Preventive Services, Interview Characteristics, Beneficiary Knowledge of the Medicare Program, Residence Timeline, Facility Characteristics, and Beneficiary Income and Assets. This file also includes summarized administrative FFS utilization data and research claims which contain limited FFS claims content for those beneficiaries enrolled in FFS Medicare. This file is released 12-15 months after the end of data collection.
MCBS PUF - 2018 Now Available
The MCBS Survey File public use file (MCBS PUF) provides a publicly available MCBS file for researchers interested in the health, health care use, access to and satisfaction with care for Medicare beneficiaries, while providing the very highest degree of protection to the Medicare beneficiaries’ protected health information. The MCBS PUF is prepared from data collected from community dwelling Medicare beneficiaries and contains standard demographic variables, such as age categories, race/ethnicity and gender, as well as information about health conditions, access to and satisfaction with care, type of insurance coverage, and information on utilization, such as the number of fee-for-service claims per beneficiary for certain health care event types. The MCBS PUF is available free for download, along with its accompanying documentation here on the MCBS PUF page. This file is released approximately 3 months after the MCBS Survey File is available.
MCBS COVID-19 PUF - 2020 Fall Now Available
The MCBS COVID-19 Supplement public use file provides a publicly available MCBS file for researchers interested in the experiences of Medicare beneficiaries during the COVID-19 pandemic. The file provides information not available in the CMS administrative data on such things as telehealth availability, computer/internet access, and health care while providing the very highest degree of protection to the Medicare beneficiaries’ protected health information. The MCBS COVID-19 PUF is prepared from data collected from community dwelling Medicare beneficiaries and contains standard demographic variables, such as age categories, race/ethnicity and gender. The MCBS COVID-19 PUF is available free for download, along with its accompanying documentation here on the MCBS PUF page. This file is released periodically. Current anticipated releases will occur after Winter 2021 data collection cycle.
MCBS Cost Supplement File - 2015-2018 Now Available, 2019 Available Fall 2021
The MCBS Cost Supplement links Medicare claims to survey-reported events and provides complete expenditure and source of payment data on all health care services, including those not covered by Medicare reported by our survey beneficiaries. Expenditure data were developed through a reconciliation process that combines information from survey respondents and Medicare administrative files. The process produces a comprehensive picture of health services received, amounts paid, and sources of payment. Linking this file to the MCBS Survey file can support a broader range of research and policy analyses on the Medicare population than would be possible using either survey data or administrative claims data alone. Survey-reported data include information on the use and cost of all types of medical services including inpatient hospitalizations, outpatient hospital care, physician services, home health care, durable medical equipment, skilled nursing home services, hospice care, and other medical services. The Cost Supplement file is released 15-18 months after the administrative claims data is available.
If you have questions regarding use of the MCBS data please email us at MCBS@cms.hhs.gov.
For more information, please click on the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) link in the Related Links Inside CMS area.