Thursday, July 24, 2014

Medicare Turns 49

On July 30th of this month Medicare will turn 49 years old.  Signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, Medicare was the answer to health care insurance for elderly Americans.  Americans 65 or older were provided hospital and medical insurance as an amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935.  19 million people enrolled in Medicare when it went into effect a year later in 1966.  President Harry S. Truman was enrolled as Medicare's first beneficiary and received the first Medicare card.  President Johnson wanted to recognize Truman, who in 1945, had become the first president to propose national health insurance, an initiative that was opposed at that time by Congress.

At its creation, Medicare consisted of two parts.  Medicare Part A hospital insurance coverage, which was financed by payroll deductions and charged no premium to those who had contributed, and Medicare Part B an optional medical insurance program for which enrollees paid a monthly premium.

Medicare's first beneficiaries paid a $40 annual deductible for Part A.  The monthly premium for Part B, in which Truman did enroll, was $3.  As of June of 2013 the cost is $1,184 for the annual Part A deductible and a premium of roughly $105 a month for Part B, plus a $147 annual deductible.

Today, nearly 50 million Americans, 15 percent of the nation's population, depends on Medicare for their health insurance coverage.  With increasing life expectancy and more "Baby Boomers" turning 65 every day, the number of people on Medicare is expected to double before 2030.

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