Difference between RIF, LDS, and PUF data files

Difference between RIF, LDS, and PUF data files

Current Version Date: 
08/09/2012

Research identifiable files (RIF) contain beneficiary level protected health information (PHI). Requests for RIF data require a Data Use Agreement (DUA) and are reviewed by CMS’s Privacy Board to ensure that the beneficiary’s privacy is protected and the need for identifiable data is justified.  The Researchers page of the CMS website provides the criteria for the release of these data.

Limited Data Set (LDS) files contain beneficiary level protected health information; however, selected variables within the files are encrypted, blanked, or ranged. LDS requests require a DUA, but do not go through a Privacy Board review.  The DUA-Limited Data Sets (LDS) page on the CMS website describes the ways in which the LDS files may be used.

Public Use Files (PUFs), also called Non-Identifiable Data Files, have been edited and stripped of all information that could be used to identify individuals. In general the PUFs contain aggregate level information on Medicare beneficiary or provider utilization. 

Table 1. Overview of release requirements for each privacy level

 

Research Identifiable

Limited Data Sets

Public Use File

Requires Privacy Board Review?

Yes

No

No

Requires a Data Use Agreement?

Yes

Yes

No

File includes beneficiary level data?

Yes

Yes

No

Data file can be customized to only include a specific cohort (Diabetics residing in MN)? *

Yes

No

No

Data can be linked to non-CMS data using a beneficiary identifier (SSN or Medicare id)

Yes

No

No

*The Limited Data Sets are only available as a 100% file or a 5% random sample file. 

 

Even though the Research identifiable files (RIF) and the Limited Data set (LDS) files both contain beneficiary level data, certain provider and beneficiary level variables have been altered in the LDS files.  

Table 2. Variable differences between Research Identifiable files and Limited Data Sets

Variable

File

Research Identifiable File

Limited Data Set

Beneficiary identifier

Claims & Enrollment files

Encrypted identifier

Encrypted identifier

Health Insurance Claim (HIC) or Social Security Number (SSN)

Claims & Enrollment files

Not included in file

Not included in file

Dates (MM/DD/YYYY)

Claims files

Included

Included as of CY 2010 *

Beneficiary Zip Code

Enrollment file

Included

Not included, only County or State

Beneficiary Date of Birth

Enrollment file

Included

Not included, either Age year or 5-yr age range

Date of Death

Enrollment file

Included

Included, only for validated dates of death **

UPIN/NPI of performing provider

Claims files

Included

UPIN/NPI can be changed from Encrypted to Included***

Institutional provider number

Claims files

Included

Included

*Dates are present in the claims files as of 2010. In 2009, the Dates are provided as a separate file.  Prior to 2009, the dates are presented as a Quarter and Year only.

** About 96% of the deaths found in the annual enrollment file are validated. 

***UPIN/NPI are encrypted in LDS data files from 1999-2012. Beginning in 2013, the real UPIN/NPI are included.  Please see the DUA [http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Computer-Data-and-Systems/Privacy/DUAs_-_more_actions.html] page under "Requesting LDS SAF NPI/UPIN Crosswalk" to obtain the real identifiers for prior years.

Article Number: 
148
Author(s): 
This work was performed under CMS Contract Number HHSM-500-2005-00027I.