Identifying cohabiting couples in administrative data: evidence from Medicare address data

Sasmira Matta, Joanne W. Hsu, Theodore J. Iwashyna, Micah Y. Baum, Kenneth M. Langa, Lauren Hersch Nicholas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Marital status is recognized as an important social determinant of health, income, and social support, but is rarely available in administrative data. We assessed the feasibility of using exact address data and zip code history to identify cohabiting couples using the 2018 Medicare Vital Status file and ZIP codes in the 2011–2014 Master Beneficiary Summary Files. Medicare beneficiaries meeting our algorithm displayed characteristics consistent with assortative mating and resembled known married couples in the Health and Retirement Study linked to Medicare claims. Address information represents a promising strategy for identifying cohabiting couples in administrative data including healthcare claims and other data types.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)238-247
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Services and Outcomes Research Methodology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Address
  • Cohabitation
  • Couples
  • Marriage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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