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Physical Access to Data

The current fees for physical receipt of Research Identifiable Files (RIF) are posted in the attachment “CMS Fee List for Research Files” in the “Physical Research Data Request" section. 

The fees for physical receipt of data are determined by:

  1. Files Requested
  2. Number of People Included
  3. Frequency (annual or quarterly)
  4. Whether a Finder File is needed

Files Requested

Each data file has a fee. The CMS fee list includes a list of files available and the associated fee. 

Number of People Included

The CMS fee list includes four pricing tiers based on the number of people in a study (also referred to as cohort). Requesters may already know the number of people in the cohort because they have collected this information. Or, requesters may have criteria that they want used to select people in their cohort. 

To estimate the number of people included for a data request, visit the CCW cohort creator and cost estimate application tool that uses menu-driven steps to determine the estimated number of people. The tool can also provide an estimated cost based on the cohort size. 

Frequency

Most data files are priced per year. The Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) claims and enrollment data are also available on a quarterly basis. The quarterly data extract schedule and explanation of the fees are found in the article, "RIF Medicare Quarterly Data".

Finder File

A finder file is a file that identifies all of the people the requester wants to include. Requesters can submit their own finder file by submitting personal identifiers or they can request a finder file be created for them. 

If requesters submit their own finder file then a finder file charge will not apply. For more information about the type of finder files CCW can receive, please see the “Finder File Encryption Policy” on the CCW website.  

Requesters can also request to have a finder file created from the Medicare or Medicaid data. For example, a researcher could request to have all diabetics in a particular state pulled for a particular year. The cost of the finder file creation will depend on whether the criteria for the search is a simple or complex algorithm. A simple algorithm is defined as a search that only requires a single pass through the data. A complex algorithm is defined as a search that requires a multi-step approach, such as multiple passes through the data. Examples are found in the "Appendix - Simple vs Complex finder files" document found under “Resources” at the bottom of this section.

If a formal cost estimate is needed for a grant proposal or planning purposes, complete a specifications worksheet and email it to resdac@umn.edu.

Resources: 

PDF iconCMS Fee List for Research Files.pdf

PDF iconAppendix - Simple vs. Complex Finder Files.pdf

VRDC

The Virtual Research Data Center (VRDC) is a virtual research environment that provides timelier access to Medicare and Medicaid program data.

The current fees for accessing Research Identifiable Files (RIF) data via the VRDC are posted in the attachment “CMS Fee List for Research Files” in the “Virtual Research Data Center (VRDC) - Regular Researcher" section. 

The fees associated with accessing data via the VRDC are based on a combination of:

  1. Seat Access
  2. Project Fee
  3. Space Cost

Seat Access

Researchers who access data in the secure VRDC environment will be charged a standard access fee per user or “seat.” This fee covers CMS onboarding, seat license, training, output review, and administrative costs. The seat access fee is charged on an annual basis; each seat must be renewed every year in order for the user or “seat holder” to continue working on the study. 

Project Fee

The VRDC project fee is a one-time standard fee that covers the cost of extracting data needed. There is no charge to add additional years of data for an existing cohort. However, any changes in the cohort that result in re-extracting data will incur a fee. Existing VRDC seat holders may add projects to their user workspace for an additional project fee.

Space Cost

The first 500 GB of space are included in the project fee. However, researchers may need to pay for additional space in the VRDC depending on the size of their data request. Space is needed for raw data, analytic files, and output. Additional space can be purchased in 500 GB blocks. The cost for continued additional space will be charged during the seat renewal period, if applicable.

Obtaining a formal cost estimate is the best way to be sure of all associated VRDC fees, including whether or not extra space is required. 

Resources:

Innovator

Innovators must use the VRDC which is a virtual research environment that provides timelier access to Medicare and Medicaid program data. The current fees for accessing Research Identifiable Files (RIF) data via the VRDC through the Innovator Research Program are posted in the attachment “CMS Fee List for Research Files” in the “Innovator Research Fees” section.

The fees associated with accessing data via the VRDC are based on a combination of:

  1. Seat Access
  2. Project Fee
  3. Space Cost

Seat Access

Researchers who access data in the secure VRDC environment will be charged a standard access fee per user or “seat.” This fee covers CMS onboarding, seat license, training, output review, and administrative costs. The seat access fee is charged on an annual basis; each seat must be renewed every year in order for the user or “seat holder” to continue working on the study. 

Project Fee

The VRDC project fee is a one-time standard fee that covers the cost of extracting data needed. There is no charge to add additional years of data for an existing cohort. However, any changes in the cohort that result in re-extracting data will incur a fee. Existing VRDC seat holders may add projects to their user workspace for an additional project fee.

Space Cost

The first 500 GB of space are included in the project fee. However, researchers may need to pay for additional space in the VRDC depending on the size of their data request. Space is needed for raw data, analytic files, and output. Additional space can be purchased in 500 GB blocks. The cost for continued additional space will be charged during the seat renewal period, if applicable.

Obtaining a formal cost estimate is the best way to be sure of all associated VRDC fees, including whether or not extra space is required.

Resources: