Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey Series

Investigator(s): Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) Office of the Actuary

The Medicare Current Beneficiary Surveys (MCBS) are continuous, multipurpose datasets covering a representative sample of the Medicare population, both aged and disabled. The MCBS is sponsored by the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) and directed by that agency's Office of the Actuary. The purpose of the MCBS is to aid in HCFA's administration, monitoring, and evaluation of the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The MCBS focuses on economic issues -- health care use and expenditures and factors that affect use of care and the beneficiary's ability to pay. Fieldwork for Round 1 began in September 1991, and was completed in December 1991. The sample is annually supplemented during the September through December periods to account for attrition and newly enrolled persons. New rounds reinterviewing the same sample persons (or other appropriate respondents) begin every four months. An effort is made to interview the sampled person directly, but in case this person is unable to answer the questions, he or she is asked to designate a proxy respondent, usually a family member or close acquaintance. Interviews are conducted regardless of whether the sample person resides at home or in a long-term care facility. Persons in long-term care facilities are given a similar, but shortened, instrument. Respondents for the MCBS were sampled from the Medicare enrollment file to be representative of the Medicare population as a whole and by age group -- under 45, 45 to 64, 65 to 69, 70 to 74, 75 to 79, 80 to 84, and 85 and over. Because of interest in their special health care needs, the oldest old (85 and over) and the disabled (64 and under) are oversampled to permit more detailed analysis of these subpopulations. Sampled individuals in the community are interviewed using computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) survey instruments. These interviews yield a series of data over time for each sampled beneficiary on utilization of health services, medical care expenditures, health insurance coverage, sources of payment (public and private, including out-of-pocket payments), health status and functioning, and a variety of demographic and behavioral information (such as income, assets, living arrangements, family supports, quality of life, sex, race, education, military service, and marital status).