Medicare is a federal health insurance program created in the 1960s to provide a safety net for America’s senior citizens. The program has since been expanded to also cover people with long-term disabilities as well as those with ALS or end-stage renal disease.
Medicare is the largest single health care payer in the nation (Medicaid has more enrollees, but it’s jointly funded by the federal government and each state; Medicare is truly a single-payer system, run by the federal government).
Medicare tends to be popular with beneficiaries, and consistently receives better consumer approval than commercial health insurance. As of April 2021, there were more than 63 million Americans covered by Medicare.
- Just over 36 million of them were enrolled in Original Medicare.
- More than 27 million of them were enrolled in Medicare Advantage (or, in a few cases, Medicare Cost plans).