Medicare Claims Data at the NBER

NBER Medicare Data documentation and code


NBER researchers have a long history of working with Medicare claims and as a result the NBER has worked closely with CMS over the past 15 years to ensure the integrity, security, and confidentiality of the data. During this time, the NBER has accumulated a working knowledge of the intricacies of the claims. With funding from the National Institute on Aging, the NBER has created a website and corresponding code to aid an individual in working with the raw Medicare claims data.

It is important to note that a researcher is required to enter into a data use agreement (DUA) with CMS for each project and follow proper protocol for approval, use and destruction of the data after completion of a project. Data acquired for one project cannot be used for a different project unless a new DUA approval has been obtained. CMS is the sole authority for decisions on any DUA. Obtaining a DUA is an involved and time consuming process.

ResDAC is an excellent resource which CMS contracts to provide guidance to Medicare data users. They provide assistance ranging from answering specific questions, to giving Medicare seminars at no direct cost to the attendee. In addition the ResDAC website contains information regarding FAQ, Medicare data dictionaries and information on the DUA application process.

Completing a CMS application is often a time consuming process which may take several months. ResDAC reviews DUAs to ensure that they are complete before sending them to CMS. The ResDAC website has more information on the steps and materials needed to complete a DUA application at the following ResDAC website


Available documentation:


    Historical code books are available to the public. The NBER has made these scanned historical codebooks available.


    NBER Affiliates provides information about the Medicare claims in general. In addition SAS and Stata programs have been made available which create extracts from the raw claims after harmonizing for cross-year differences and other changes to the claims over time. The NBER affiliates version of the website is nearly identical to the Public version of the website with the exception that specific issues relevent to working on the NBER secure servers and with the Medicare claims data holdings are dealt with. For more general information about how the NBER assists Family members with the DUA application process .

    Archived older website. No longer being updated.
    NBER Affiliates website - archived


    Public website provides information about the Medicare claims in general. In addition SAS and Stata programs have been made available which create extracts from the raw claims after harmonizing for cross-year differences and other changes to the claims over time.


    Quick program setup provides specific documentation to setting up the programs. If you simply want to set up programs look here. The other website provide more detailed information about the claims.


    Frequently Asked Medicare Questions Provides answers/links to frequently asked questions. Feel free to ask/suggestion additions.

    If you have comments or suggestions, e-mail Maurice Dalton or Jean Roth