MCBS Topics

The Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) asks about a wide range of health and health care topics. Some topics are covered during every interview, while other topics are only covered on a yearly or rotating basis. 

Here are some of the core topics covered over the course of the MCBS. Click on any topic below to view example questions on that topic. 



Examples of Health Insurance Questions

  • “As you (may) know, Medicare beneficiaries can enroll in either Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan, such as an HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) or PPO (Preferred Provider Organization). Have you been enrolled in or covered by any Medicare Advantage Plans?”
  • “Do you have dental coverage through your health insurance plan?”
  • “Does anyone else, such as an employer, a union, or professional organization pay all or some portion of the additional cost for your health insurance coverage?”


Examples of Health Care Use Questions

  • “Since the last interview, did you go to a dentist or any other person for dental care?”
  • “Since the last interview, have you seen any medical doctors?”
  • “During any of these visits, were any medicines prescribed for you?”
  • “Were any operations or other surgical procedures performed on you during this visit?”


Examples of Health Care Cost Questions

Interviewers are trained to collect cost information from Medicare and insurance statements and will work with survey participants to confirm the information provided on health care documents. Participants are asked to gather documents such as statements from Medicare, prescription drug providers, and other insurance statements. Some questions that participants may be asked include:

  • “Do you usually receive any statements or papers from Medicare, insurance, or Tricare that show the charges for medical visits or equipment?”
  • “So I have an amount remaining that Medicare didn’t pay. Have you or any other source, such as an insurance plan, paid any of this amount?”


Examples of Health Status Questions

  • “In general, compared to other people your age, would you say that your health is excellent, very good, fair, or poor?”
  • “Because of a health or physical problem, have you had trouble getting places, like the doctor’s office, a supermarket, or a friend’s house?”
  • “In a typical week, how much time do you spend doing moderate activities, such as brisk walking, bicycling, gardening, golf, swimming, or vacuuming?”


Examples of Health Care Knowledge, Access, and Satisfaction Questions

  • “Think about the most recent time you went to a hospital clinic or outpatient department. How long did you have to wait during your most recent visit before you saw a doctor or some other medical person?”
  • “In the last six months, how often did your primary provider explain things in a way that was easy to understand?”
  • “Most of the time, do you make decisions about Medicare health insurance on your own, do you get help from someone in making these decisions, or do you rely on someone else to make decisions about health insurance for you?”