Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS)

The Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) is an ongoing survey of a nationally representative sample of the Medicare population. The survey goals include:

  • Collect information not available from administrative claims and enrollment data for a Medicare beneficiary including:
    • all health insurance coverage
    • all health care utilization including services not covered by Medicare
    • all sources of payment for health care services
    • all expenditures: co-payments, deductibles, payment for non-covered services
  • Identify Medicaid eligibility and income spend down to Medicaid eligibility
  • Facilitate longitudinal tracking:  sources of care, satisfaction with care, health status, outcomes
  • Assist CMS in the administration, monitoring and evaluation of the Medicare program

If a researcher plans to use MCBS data in combination with Research Identifiable File (RIF) data, then the whole request becomes a RIF data request. The study must meet the criteria for an identifiable data request. The data request is no longer a Limited Data Set (LDS) request and must be submitted through ResDAC as a RIF request.

2015 data and forward

The structure of the MCBS Limited Data Set (LDS) has changed from the 1991-2013 files. There will continue to be two files but there are differences.

One file is the MCBS Survey File. This file can stand-alone or be used in conjunction with the second file, the MCBS Cost Supplement File. Cost analysis research requires that the Cost Supplement File is linked to the MCBS Survey File. CMS data documentation provides a crosswalk to assist researchers implementing the new files in work that includes the earlier modules, Access to Care and Cost and Use.

Survey File

Data included in the Survey File:

  • Demographics: household characteristics, information on income and assets
  • Health care: access, satisfaction, usual source of care, preventive service
  • Health status: medical conditions, health behaviors
  • Timeline data: health insurance, residence
  • Facility characteristics for non-community dwelling beneficiaries.

Cost Supplement File

This file is truly a supplement file and must be merged with the Survey File to complete analysis. This is an important difference from the two, independent, modules released in years 1991-2013.

Data included in the Cost Supplement File:

  • Health care cost: data on expenditure and payment, source of payment, supplementary insurance costs
  • Health care utilization: services received including those not paid by Medicare,
  • Fee-for-Service claims data
  • Supports analyses not possible solely with survey or claims data

2014 MCBS files will not be released.

1991-2013 data

The MCBS data available for this time period consists of two modules, Access to Care and Cost and Use. Each of these modules can be used alone for analysis.

Historical MCBS Data Files

Survey File

Availability: 
2015-2016

Please see the CMS LDS order form for request availability.

Cost Supplement File

Availability: 
2015-2016

Please see the CMS LDS order form for request availability.

Data File Classification
Program: 
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