The MCBS provides a ready source of data on beneficiary knowledge and need for information from a large, nationally representative sample of Medicare beneficiaries. In addition to any new questions, existing questions concerning beneficiary knowledge and behavior that could be used in the future to evaluate the NMEP have been fielded through the MCBS before the NMEP was first implemented and periodically since then, providing the opportunity to make comparisons over time. Survey participants are included for up to 4 years, potentially providing data necessary for longitudinal analyses (changes in individual knowledge or behavior over time). Data also lend themselves to measuring changes in outcomes for Medicare cohorts and their health care decision makers over time. Questions concerning NMEP-related issues have historically been asked once, annually through the Beneficiary Knowledge and Information Needs Supplement.
Because the MCBS survey has already been designed and is conducted annually, it is likely to be less expensive to use for an evaluation than fielding a new separate survey. Previously fielded MCBS questions could be used to evaluate the NMEP (see research questions below), and new questions could be added to the existing beneficiary knowledge survey or other instruments.