Medicare Geographic Variation

New Data on Geographic Variation

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has developed aggregated program data that enables researchers and policymakers to evaluate geographic variation in the utilization and quality of health care services for the Medicare fee-for-service population. This data file contains demographic, utilization, and quality indicators at the state level (including Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands), and at the Hospital Referral Region (HRR) level. This geographic variation information also is published in the HHS Health Indicators Warehouse, an online tool that provides access to high-quality, community-level health data that has been compiled from agencies and offices across the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Geographic Variation Public Use File is available in four data files. Tables 1 and 2 present Medicare demographic, utilization, and quality indicators for all HRRs and all states, respectively, and can easily be exported from Excel to another data analysis program for additional analysis. Reports 1 and 2 allow for the comparison of a specific HRR or state to national Medicare benchmarks. Within each file, there is a brief Methods section outlining the sample population and methodology for calculating these indicators, as well as a Documentation section which explains the individual indicators in more detail. More detailed methodological information is available in the Methodological Overview paper.

In July 2012, CMS updated the Geographic Variation Public Use File data files that were originally posted in July 2011. The July 2012 update includes additional years of data (2007, 2009-2010) and several revisions to the CMS methodology. Those revisions are described in detail in the Methodological Overview paper.