The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) provides researchers with access to Medicare claims data, which is a wonderful resources. But you have to sign a restrictive agreement before they will give you this data and you have to pay a non-trivial amount of money to get the data. Fair enough, because CMS has to guarantee patient confidentiality among other things. But what if you want to “play” with the data before taking the plunge? Thankfully, CMS has provided to the general public a synthetic (read fake) data set that has the same data structure. This allows you to prototype your programs on the synthetic data and then transition easily to the real data.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Medicare Claims Synthetic Public Use Files (SynPUFs). Available at https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Downloadable-Public-Use-Files/SynPUFs/index.html.