Medicare is a federal health insurance program created to provide a safety net for America's senior citizens. Now expanded to cover seniors plus enrollees who meet special criteria, the program is the largest single health care payer in the nation. And, although its costs and outcomes were hotly debated during the recent health reform debate, Medicare remains a wildly popular program with Americans approaching the age of eligibility.
Medicare is the federal health insurance program created in 1965 to provide health coverage for Americans aged 65 and older. The program now covers 47 million Americans, providing financial security for seniors and younger beneficiaries with disabilities.
How and why was Medicare launched? Credit goes to President Harry S. Truman's administration for building on the idea of government-led healthcare insurance for older Americans. Truman began his advocacy in 1945 and by 1948, Truman supported specific legislation to create a national health care program.
During the health reform debate, critics warned that the ailing Medicare system would be further weakened by government efforts to restructure it. Reform supporters countered that the program won't survive without dramatic restructuring. In the end, reform prevailed, and the government quickly began implementing changes to the program.