Medicare turns 50

Affordable Care Act

Medicare turns 50

Published on July 30, 2015


On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Amendments of 1965 into law and changed the lives of Americans forever. The legislation initially provided federal health insurance for the elderly (Medicare) and for the poor (Medicaid). Before the enactment of Medicare, nearly half of the elderly had no health insurance and many seniors were living in poverty.
Medicare provides health insurance for Americans aged 65 and older regardless of income and health status. The program helps pay for a variety of medical services, including hospital stays, physician visits, and prescription drugs.
Today, Medicare covers nearly 55 million people and 11,000 new seniors become eligible for Medicare every day.
While Medicare has done a tremendous job in improving seniors overall health and wellness, Medicare still faces a lot of challenges such as financing and affordability in the years to come.
In honor of Medicare’s 50th birthday, here are 10 fun facts about Medicare:

  1. President and First Lady Truman were the first Medicare beneficiaries.
  2. Before 1966, roughly half of all seniors had no health insurance. Today, nearly all seniors are covered by Medicare or Medicare & Medicaid together.
  3. Medicare was responsible for helping to desegregate hospitals after the Civil Rights Act went into effect. If hospitals wanted to receive federal funding, they had to comply with the Civil Rights Act and desegregate.
  4. Currently, 41 million people with Medicare have prescription drug coverage, which helps cover the cost of prescription drugs through their Medicare health plan or stand-alone prescription drug plan.
  5. More than one-third of all Medicare beneficiaries live with four or more chronic conditions.
  6. There will be 81 million people enrolled in Medicare by 2030.
  7. As a result of the Affordable Care Act,  more than 9.4 million seniors and people with disabilities with Medicare saved more than $15 billion on prescription drugs from 2010-2014.
  8. Last year, over 16 million people chose to enroll in a private Medicare Advantage plan, like an HMO or PPO, as an alternative to original Medicare.
  9. 51 million people are currently enrolled in Medicare Part B, which helps pay for physician, hospital, outpatient, some home health and preventive services.
  10. 55 million people are currently enrolled in Medicare Part A, which covers inpatient hospital, skilled nursing facility, some home health visits, and hospice care.

The Social Security Amendments of 1965 changed the health care industry forever, but before wishing just Medicare a happy birthday, here are 10 headlines from 1965 that impacted American culture and history as well:

  1. The first US combat troops arrive in Vietnam.
  2. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and more than 2,600 others are arrested in Selma, Alabama during demonstrations against voter-registration rules.
  3. Malcolm X, a black-nationalist leader is assassinated at Harlem rally on February 21.
  4. The Higher Education Act of 1965 is signed into law providing low-interest loans for students in higher education.
  5. The Sound of Music premieres.
  6. Nobel Peace Prize is given to UNICEF better known as the United Nations Children’s Fund.
  7. ABC pays $32 million for a four-year contract with the NCAA to broadcast football games on Saturday afternoons.
  8. Major Edward H. White II becomes the second human to walk in space during the flight of Gemini 4.
  9. The Beatles Release The Movie and Album Help!
  10. The Grateful Dead with Lead guitarist Jerry Garcia play their first concert in San Francisco.

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