Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS)

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 Information Products and Data Analysis (OIPDA) of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) through a contract with Westat. The central goals of 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 processes over time, such as changes in health status and spending down to Medicaid eligibility and the impacts of program changes, satisfaction with care, and usual source of care.

There are two data files from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) that are released in annual Access to Care and Cost and Use files, which can be purchased directly from CMS.

a. MCBS Access to Care

The Access to Care file contains information on beneficiaries' access to health care, satisfaction with care, and usual source of care. The Access to Care file contains results from a supplement gauging beneficiaries' sources of information about Medicare and from a supplement surveying Medicare HMO members. To facilitate analysis, the information collected in the survey is augmented with data on the use and program cost of Medicare services from Medicare claims data under fee-for-service. The Access to Care file is released within a year of the survey.

b. MCBS Cost and Use Files

The MCBS Cost and Use files link 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. 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. The 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, as well as information on supplementary health insurance, living arrangements, income, health status, and physical functioning. Medicare claims data includes use and cost information on inpatient hospitalizations, outpatient hospital care, physician services, home health care, durable medical equipment, skilled nursing home services, hospice care, and other medical services. MCBS produces two files annually, Access to Care and Cost and Use. The Cost and Use file is released within 2 years of the survey.

All research requests for MCBS data must be requested through the Research Data Assistance Center (ResDAC), who may be contacted via web - or via email -

Once your data request has been reviewed by ResDAC, a formal request package will be sent to CMS by ResDAC.

If you have been contacted to participate in the MCBS and would like to verify your selection in this study, please contact Westat toll free at 1-800-937-8286.

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For more information, please click on the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) link in the Related Links Inside CMS area.