About the Study

Key Facts

  • The Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) is the leading source of information for researchers and policymakers on Medicare and its impact on beneficiaries
  • Over 100,000 Medicare beneficiaries have participated in the MCBS since its inception in 1991
  • The MCBS is ongoing -- new participants are added to the sample each year
  • Each participant completes up to three interviews per year for four years
  • MCBS data helps policy analysts to set benefit needs and funding levels for the Medicare program

Overview

Individuals who are selected to participate in the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) are scientifically selected from the Medicare administrative files and cannot be substituted. Together, the study participants represent all of the nation’s 49 million Medicare beneficiaries. 

Since its inception in 1991, the MCBS has been an invaluable source of information for administering the Medicare program, estimating health care expenditures for beneficiaries, and creating a better understanding of Medicare beneficiaries. It is the leading source of information on Medicare and its impact on beneficiaries. Data from the MCBS is used to inform many products, including the creation of new benefits such as the Part D prescription drug benefit.

The MCBS is a continuous, in-person survey of a representative national sample of the Medicare population. It is sponsored by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and directed by the Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics in partnership with the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation. Linked to Medicare claims data, the survey was designed to aid CMS in administering, monitoring, and evaluating the Medicare program.

In the MCBS, each sampled beneficiary is selected as part of a panel and is interviewed up to three times per year for four consecutive years. Interviews are administered via computer-assisted personal interviewing and facilitated by a national team of interviewers from NORC at the University of Chicago. Roughly one-quarter of the existing sample is retired each summer, and a new panel is selected to replace it the following fall. A key feature of the MCBS design is that sampled persons are followed into and out of long term care facilities during their participation in the survey.

CMS has contracted NORC at the University of Chicago to conduct the MCBS. NORC engages in sampling, data collection, data processing, and data delivery as part of conducting the MCBS.

Study Leadership

Debra Reed-Gillette
Director, Division of Survey Management and Analysis
Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
(410) 786-5525
 
William Long
CMS Project Officer
Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
(410) 786-7927
 
Walter Stone
CMS Privacy Officer
Division of Privacy Policy
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
(410) 786-5357
 
Susan Schechter
MCBS Project Director
Senior Fellow, Health Care Research
NORC at the University of Chicago
(301) 634-9315