Introduction to the Use of Medicare Data for Research

Medicare data are useful for understanding the cost and use of healthcare, but they are also very complex. Understanding the origin, structure and contents of the data is essential to designing a successful research project. This workshop delivers an overview of Medicare benefit and payment design, describes available research files, and provides insight into how these features affect inference. Course faculty share what they have learned from a combined 40+ years of using Medicare data for research.

Workshop Date:
February 22, 2021 to February 23, 2021
Minneapolis, MN (Online)
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Why You Should Attend this Workshop

You are answering a research question using Medicare administrative data, and you want to understand the underlying structure and how to interpret what you see.

You believe that Medicare administrative data may answer your research question, and you want to understand the strengths and limitations of the data.

Previous participants have found the workshop more useful after they have some experience with the data, although experience is not required for attendance. 

Participants will have the opportunity to view the data layout at the workshop.

We no longer use statistical analysis software during the workshop; experience with specific software is not required. All attendees will be able to complete the exercises. 

Educational Objectives
  • Understand how the basic structure and content of the Medicare program: entitlement, enrollment, benefits and coverage, determines what is in the data.
  • Learn how billing data are generated, processed by the CMS administrative data system, and turned into research files, and how this affects the quality of specific data elements.
  • Become familiar with the various data files CMS/CCW provides and the potential uses of these files for research, especially the:
    • Medicare Beneficiary Summary File (MBSF)
    • MedPAR/Inpatient file
    • Outpatient file
    • Carrier file
  • Be able to use Medicare enrollment information for defining study populations, identifying target populations, and calculating rates.
  • Gain experience with key variables from the Master Beneficiary Summary File, MedPAR, Outpatient and Carrier files
  • Interact with and learn from the experience of the faculty and other participants interested in Medicare data for research.

Workshop Videos

This presentation provides an overview of the Medicare program including its structure and…

Knowledge of where the Medicare data originate and what Medicare data files are available to you…

The Carrier file contains claims submitted by non-institutional providers such as physicians,…

This presentation provides an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the Medicare…

The Medicare Provider Analysis and Review (MedPAR) file contains information about inpatient and…

This brief presentation outlines the educational objectives for the Introduction to Medicare…

Conceptual understanding of the importance of a denominator file for Medicare research is…

The Medicare claims and enrollment files contain information needed for CMS to administer the…