The machine-readable files (MRFs) that are now available on are a very specific file type and format as prescribed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). We are unable to make files available in other formats. We understand that you may have questions about how you can download or access the MRFs for your group. Below is helpful information about accessing and downloading the MRFs.

File formats

An MRF is defined as a digital representation of data or information in a file that can be imported or read by a computer system for further processing without human intervention. The Transparency in Coverage Rule and CMS requires that the MRFs be in JSON (Javascript Object Notation) format. These files are extremely large — as much as one terabyte (TB) — which has significant system requirements for use. Given the large size of the MRFs, they are compressed to a Gzip file (.gz). This compression format is being used by many issuers and plans due to its compression effectiveness.

Preparing your system to access or download an MRF

Users should ensure they have the required memory capacity, hardware, and software capabilities before attempting to download an MRF. These files are intended to be used for data aggregation and research so the data will appear as lines of computer code.

Due to the extremely large size of MRFs, the compressed Gzip files can be extracted or unzipped by using software such as WinZip or 7zip. Please consult your IT experts for assistance with downloading and extracting these files, as it is not uncommon for firewalls to block downloading. Some security settings may also prevent downloading, extracting, or accessing these files.

Once the JSON files are extracted, a text or source code editor or word processor program may be used to view the files. It should be noted that these files will typically be used by researchers, regulators, and application developers with proprietary platforms. The MRFs are not readily readable by members and may be difficult to interpret.

Steps to access and view an MRF

To summarize steps for accessing and viewing the files, users should:

  1. Download the applicable MRF with the .gz file extension.
  2. Extract the JSON file from the compressed Gzip (.gz) file using WinZip or 7zip. (Stakeholders should consult their IT experts before downloading additional software.)
  3. View the JSON file using a text or source code editor or word processor program (i.e., MS Wordpad, Notepad or Notepad++). Users should open the document by right-clicking on the file and selecting the “Open With” function and choosing the appropriate viewing software.

Accessing member cost share information

As noted above, these MRFs are not readily interpretable by consumers. Members are encouraged to use the more member friendly Find Costs tool available through The tool can help members find providers and even determine how much a visit will cost before receiving services. The MRFs do not provide information on a member’s out-of-pocket charges.