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This week CMS released, for the first time, a public use file for the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS).  The “MCBS 2013 Access to Care Public Use File” (MCBS PUF) provides the first publicly available MCBS file for people interested in the health, health care use, access to, and satisfaction with care for Medicare beneficiaries.  CMS definitively assures that Medicare beneficiaries’ protected health information is completely safe.

The MCBS is a “continuous, in-person, longitudinal survey of a representative national sample of the Medicare population.”  As the largest federal health survey of the Medicare population, the MCBS plays an essential role in monitoring and evaluating key aspects of the Medicare program and is the leading source of information on Medicare and its impact on beneficiaries. 

This file was prepared using data collected in 2013 from over 13,000 beneficiaries, and contains standard demographic variables such as: age categories; race/ethnicity and gender; information about health conditions, access to and satisfaction with care, and type of insurance coverage; and information on utilization, such as the number of fee-for-service claims per beneficiary for certain health care event types. The file was also designed to enable users to explore issues related to health equity and health disparities.

The MCBS 2013 ATC PUF is available free for download, along with its accompanying documentation at: https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Downloadable-Public-Use-Files/MCBS-Public-Use-File/index.html

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