Monitoring the health status and impact of treatment on Americans: The medicare beneficiary health status registry

A. Marshall McBean, Charles F. Turner, Leslye K. Fitterman, Kirk Pate, Thomas Reilly, Timothy K. Smith, Anne Trontell, Michael B. Witt, Lynne Penberthy, Judith T. Lessler, Barbara H. Forsyth, Sara Wheeless, Frank Mierzwa, Heather G. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE. A major new survey program, the Medicare Beneficiary Health Status Registry (MBHSR), has been proposed to improve the monitoring of the health status of Medicare beneficiaries. The MBHSR would collect data by mail with telephone follow up of nonrespondents to permit economical assessment of a total Registry of approximately 200,000 Medicare beneficiaries, approximately 54,000 of whom would be surveyed in any given year. (Surveys would be conducted of samples of new enrollees who would be reinterviewed every five years.) METHOD. To assess the feasibility of that approach, a field test was conducted with a probability sample (n = 1,922) that comprised approximately equal numbers of new Medicare enrollees (aged, 65) and current beneficiaries (age range, 76-80). The field test was designed to assess the quality of the data that this design would produce. FINDINGS. Results indicate that the proposed design of the MBHSR could achieve response rates of approximately 80% among both age cohorts using a survey instrument that took 30 minutes to complete. Internal reliability of Activities of Daily Living, Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, Mobility, Mental Health Index, General Health, and Prostate Symptomatology scales ranged from 0.77 to 0.93. When measurements were repeated approximately 30 days after the initial survey, moderate to high levels of cross temporal correlation (range, 0.64-0.96) were found for most indexes, with the exception of prostate symptomatology. In addition, an earlier comparison of survey responses in the MBHSR field test to Medicare payment records indicated that the MBHSR field test obtained highly accurate reports of most of the major surgeries that were recorded in Medicare claims files. CONCLUSION. The design proposed for the MBHSR is feasible. If implemented, it should produce acceptably high rates of response and data quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-203
Number of pages15
JournalMedical care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 1999


  • Elderly population
  • Health status
  • Medicare
  • Monitoring systems
  • Survey measurement

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