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Dataset: Carrier (Fee-for-Service) ()

Basic Information
Dataset Full Name Carrier (Fee-for-Service)
Dataset Acronym

The Carrier Fee-for-Service file (formerly known as the National Carrier file) contains procedure-level claims and billing data for Medicare Part B beneficiaries receiving services from non-institutional health providers. Non-institutional health providers include: physicians, physician assistants, clinical social workers, nurse practitioners. Claims for some organizational providers, such as free-standing facilities are also found in the Carrier Claims File.  Examples include independent clinical laboratories, ambulance providers, free-standing ambulatory surgical centers and free-standing radiology centers.. The data contains beneficiary demographic information, primary claim diagnosis, and up to 12 additional diagnoses (ICD-10 codes), as well as Health Care Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) codes and Current Procedural Technology (CPT) codes. Files also contain provider-level information including unique physician identification number (UPIN), and national provider identifier (NPI). Procedure-level details include: date and place of service, provider charges submitted, payments and recipient co-payments.

Studies often combine the Medicare National Carrier file data with the Medicare Outpatient Standard Analytical File (SAF) data to examine outpatient utilization of health services provided by both non-institutional providers and institutional-affiliated providers.

Key Terms Medicare Part B, HCPCS, CPT, Non-institutional providers
Study Design Longitudinal
Data Type(s) Administrative
Sponsoring Agency/Entity

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

Health Conditions/Disability Measures
Health Condition(s)

ICD-9/10 diagnostic codes

Disability Measures NA
Measures/Outcomes of Interest
Topics Outpatient health-services utilization, Outpatient rehabilitation services utilization, Continuity of care, Health Care Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS), Current Procedural Technology codes (CPT)
Sample Population Medicare beneficiaries
Sample Size/Notes Medicare beneficiaries enrolled under Medicare Part B
Unit of Observation Individual
Continent(s) North America

United States

Geographic Coverage United States
Geographic Specificity Zip code of beneficiary residence
Special Population(s)

Medicare beneficiaries (Part B enrollees) 

Data Collection
Data Collection Mode Administrative claims data
Years Collected 1999-present
Data Collection Frequency Annual
Strengths and Limitations
Strengths Very large sample size. Includes health service utilization in outpatient settings provided by non-institutional health providers. Claims for other providers, such as free-standing facilities (e.g., ambulatory surgical centers, and clinical laboratories) are also found in the Carrier file. Carrier file data can be linked to other CMS and non-CMS data.
Limitations Data for beneficiaries enrolled in Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) is not included. Analysis limited to carrier files alone may be limited to study utilization of the services, without looking at outcomes. For certain conditions/procedures (e.g., outpatient rehabilitation services) that can be provided at non-institutional or institution-affiliated settings, a combination of outpatient files along with Carrier data files is needed.
Data Details
Primary Website


Data Access

Research Identifiable File (RIF):



Data Requests:


Limited Data Set (LDS):


Data Access Requirements

Data Use agreement, $ Cost

For LDS file cost and availability, see the LDS Worksheet (ZIP):


Summary Tables/Reports NA
Data Components
  • Main File
  • Line File
  • Demonstrations/Innovations Code File (RIF only)

See https://resdac.org/cms-data/files/carrier-ffs/data-documentation for more detail

Similar/Related Dataset(s)

Outpatient Standard Analytical File (SAF) 

Selected Papers
Other Papers

Sharma G, Fletcher KE, Zhang D, Kuo YF, Freeman JL, Goodwin JS (2009). Continuity of outpatient and inpatient care by primary care physicians for hospitalized older adults. JAMA, 301(16):1671-80.


Gellhorn AC, Chan L, Martin B, Friedly J (2012). Management patterns in acute low back pain: the role of physical therapy. Spine, 37(9):775-82.



Data dictionary (links to all available LDS files):


Data dictionary (RIF):


Using the Carrier File (formerly called the Physician/Supplier Part B File):


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The Rehabilitation Research Cross-dataset Variable Catalog has been developed through the Center for Large Data Research & Data Sharing in Rehabilitation (CLDR). The Center for Large Data Research and Data Sharing in Rehabilitation involves a consortium of investigators from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Cornell University's Yang Tan Institute (YTI), and the University of Michigan. The CLDR is funded by NIH - National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, through the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research, the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. (P2CHD065702).

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Acknowledgements: This tool was developed through the efforts of William Erickson and Arun Karpur, and web designers Jason Criss and Jeff Trondsen at Cornell University. Many thanks to graduate students Kyoung Jo Oh and Yeong Joon Yoon who developed much of the content used in this tool.

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