“Medicare was enacted in 1965 (P.L. 89-97) in response to the concern that only about half of the nation’s seniors had health insurance, and most of those had coverage only for inpatient hospital costs. The new program, which became effective July 1, 1966, included Part A coverage for hospital and posthospital services and Part B coverage for doctors and other medical services. As is the case for the Social Security program, Part A is financed by payroll taxes levied on current workers and their employers; persons must pay into the system for 40 quarters to become entitled to premium-free benefits. Medicare Part B is voluntary, with a monthly premium required of beneficiaries who choose to enroll. Payments to health care providers under both Part A and Part B were originally based on the most common form of payment at the time, namely reasonable costs for hospital and other institutional services or usual, customary and reasonable charges for physicians and other medical services.7
“Medicare is considered a social insurance program and is the second-largest such federal program, after Social Security. The 1965 law also established Medicaid, the federal/state health insurance program for the poor; this was an expansion of previous welfare-based assistance programs. Some low-income individuals qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid.”
Source: Patricia A. Davis, et al. Medicare Primer. CRS Report R40425. Congressional Research Service: Washington, DC. Updated May 21, 2020.
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Page last updated Jan. 27, 2023 by Doug McVay, Editor.