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Use of the Medicare database in epidemiologic and health services research: a valuable source of real-world evidence on the older and disabled populations in the US

Authors Mues KE, Liede A, Liu J, Wetmore JB, Zaha R, Bradbury BD, Collins AJ, Gilbertson DT

Received 31 January 2017

Accepted for publication 5 April 2017

Published 9 May 2017 Volume 2017:9 Pages 267—277


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Vera Ehrenstein

Katherine E Mues,1 Alexander Liede,1 Jiannong Liu,2 James B Wetmore,2 Rebecca Zaha,1 Brian D Bradbury,1 Allan J Collins,2 David T Gilbertson2

1Center for Observational Research, Amgen Inc., Thousand Oaks and San Francisco, CA, 2Chronic Disease Research Group, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Abstract: Medicare is the federal health insurance program for individuals in the US who are aged ≥65 years, select individuals with disabilities aged <65 years, and individuals with end-stage renal disease. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services grants researchers access to Medicare administrative claims databases for epidemiologic and health outcomes research. The data cover beneficiaries’ encounters with the health care system and receipt of therapeutic interventions, including medications, procedures, and services. Medicare data have been used to describe patterns of morbidity and mortality, describe burden of disease, compare effectiveness of pharmacologic therapies, examine cost of care, evaluate the effects of provider practices on the delivery of care and patient outcomes, and explore the health impacts of important Medicare policy changes. Considering that the vast majority of US citizens ≥65 years of age have Medicare insurance, analyses of Medicare data are now essential for understanding the provision of health care among older individuals in the US and are critical for providing real-world evidence to guide decision makers. This review is designed to provide researchers with a summary of Medicare data, including the types of data that are captured, and how they may be used in epidemiologic and health outcomes research. We highlight strengths, limitations, and key considerations when designing a study using Medicare data. Additionally, we illustrate the potential impact that Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services policy changes may have on data collection, coding, and ultimately on findings derived from the data.

Keywords: Medicare, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), reimbursement claims data, epidemiologic and health services research, US population data

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