The Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) is an ongoing survey of a representative national sample of the Medicare population, including beneficiaries aged 65 and over and beneficiaries aged 64 and below with certain disabling conditions. With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) was uniquely positioned to quickly collect vital information on how the pandemic has impacted the Medicare population by using the MCBS as a vehicle to collect data. Medicare beneficiaries, by definition, are most at risk for underlying conditions that may lead to more severe COVID-19 illness or complications.
NORC is conducting a series of rapid response telephone surveys with MCBS respondents for the Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics (OEDA) at CMS. This data collection supplements the annual data collection for the MCBS and helps CMS better understand how COVID-19 affects Medicare beneficiaries and potential program changes in response to the pandemic. The questionnaire content explores topics such as the availability of telemedicine visits, deferred medical care, social distancing and other preventive health behaviors, COVID-19 testing, and the consequences for social, emotional, and financial well-being.
The first MCBS COVID-19 Rapid Response Supplement was conducted in June-July 2020 for beneficiaries living in the community who already participated in the MCBS. Data collected from the COVID-19 Summer 2020 Community Supplement were combined with demographic and health status data collected during prior interviews and released in a standalone Public Use File (PUF) in October 2020. The second MCBS COVID-19 Rapid Response Supplement for beneficiaries living in the community was conducted in October-November 2020 as part of regular MCBS data collection. Data collected from this COVID-19 Supplement were released in another standalone PUF in January 2021. In addition, data from both the Summer 2020 and Fall 2020 Community Supplements will be released in the 2019 MCBS Survey File Limited Data Set (LDS), and linkable to other data segments for analysis. A third MCBS COVID-19 Rapid Response Supplement will be conducted in March-April 2021 for beneficiaries living in the community. The release of data collected from the COVID-19 Winter 2021 Supplement is scheduled for early summer 2021.
A COVID-19 Facility Supplement was also added to MCBS data collection beginning in October 2020. These COVID-19 questions will be part of facility data collection through 2021 and possibly beyond. Data collected from the first COVID-19 Facility Supplement in Fall 2020 will be released in the 2020 MCBS Survey File LDS.
To support dissemination of estimates from the MCBS COVID-19 Community Supplements, NORC created the MCBS COVID-19 Data Tool. The tool consists of a series of evolving, interactive dashboards that show how COVID-19 has affected the lives of Medicare beneficiaries, including preventive behaviors, forgone care, and well-being. The tool also allows visitors to visualize the data using a variety of demographic and health status filters, such as sex, age, smoking status, and chronic conditions. The tool currently presents data from the COVID-19 Summer 2020 PUF, and will be updated in early 2021 when the COVID-19 Fall 2020 PUF is released.