Because we cannot interview everyone enrolled in Medicare, we select a sample of enrollees to represent the larger population. Participants in the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) are scientifically selected to represent thousands of Medicare beneficiaries similar to them. If you have been selected to participate in the MCBS, then literally no one else can take your place in the study! Substitutions are prohibited to prevent biasing the results of the study. By agreeing to participate in the MCBS, you will join approximately 16,000 Medicare beneficiaries who are interviewed every year.

What to Expect

If you have been selected to participate in the MCBS, you will receive letter version 1 or letter version 2 and a brochure in the mail. These introduce the study and explain an interviewer from NORC at the University of Chicago will be contacting you shortly to schedule an appointment. The interviewer may contact you in person or by phone. You will be asked to schedule an appointment within the next few weeks at your convenience.

To complete your interview, a professionally trained interviewer will visit your home. All interviewers undergo a thorough training and certification process by NORC. You will recognize our interviewers by their NORC identification badge. The front of the identification badge contains a photograph of their face, along with their name, title, ID number, and signature. The back of the identification badge includes a distinctive hologram in the upper left corner along with a phone number to call to establish whether the person is a legitimate NORC Field Interviewer. A picture of the official NORC identification badge is shown below.

Image of NORC ID Badge Front and Back

If you have any questions about the validity of an interviewer or your survey participation, you can visit, call 1-866-856-NORC, or email You may ask for an interviewer's employee ID number on their badge and verify they work at NORC using any of the resources above.

Using a laptop, your interviewer will ask you questions regarding your health care coverage, prescription drug utilization, and other health costs. Because each individual’s circumstance is unique, interview times vary from person to person. Interviews may take as little as one hour or may extend longer based on your individual circumstances. You can always expect that your interviewer will be efficient and flexible when scheduling and conducting the interview. We strive to make the interview process as pleasant as possible. Our participants enjoy participating in the MCBS and getting to know their interviewer. Similarly, our interviewers, NORC, and CMS collectively value each participant’s time and involvement in this important research effort.

We collect data for the MCBS three times per year, so you will be contacted again for subsequent interviews. If you are unable for any reason to participate in your interview, we can collect your responses from someone else that you designate. If you are ever in a long-term care facility in between interviews, we will still collect information about your health care from the facility.

Why Participate?

  • To improve the quality of care you and other Medicare beneficiaries receive.
  • To help us understand how Medicare affects your daily life and what problems you might be experiencing with it.
  • To provide legislators and policy makers with more information to create effective laws and regulations for people enrolled in Medicare.
  • To create summary reports to describe key factors about how people use Medicare.
  • To determine whether Medicare benefits are meeting the needs of current beneficiaries.

Privacy & Confidentiality

We understand that some people fear giving their private information to anyone. Because the MCBS collects information on health care costs and use, we know it is vitally important to do all we can to protect the data we collect. You can be assured that every protection is in place to ensure that your information remains private and confidential.

NORC and CMS are committed to protecting respondent confidentiality and privacy, and both organizations diligently uphold provisions established under the Privacy Act of 1974, the NORC Institutional Review Board (IRB), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002. Specifically, it is NORC’s policy to (a) protect the rights, privacy and confidence of its respondents; (b) to maintain the confidentiality of its documents; and (c) to safeguard all internal methods, processes, and procedures. NORC maintains state-of-the-art information systems meeting high federal standards for information security. Any breach of this policy may result in termination of employment and/or referral for criminal prosecution. Furthermore, participation in the survey is voluntary and you may refuse to answer any question that makes you feel uncomfortable.

If you have any concerns about your privacy or confidentiality, please email us at or call our toll-free number: 1-877-389-3429 to speak with someone directly.

NOTE: Participation in the MCBS will never affect your Medicare benefits.

Materials for Participants