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A look at Original Medicare, its private coverage options and who's eligible for them
A brief history of Medicare in America
How and why was Medicare launched? Credit goes to President Harry S Truman and his administration for making the idea of government-led health insurance a reality for older Americans.
What is the Medicare phone number and when should I use it?
Medicare's toll-free number offers a variety of information, including specifics about availability of health and prescription drug plans; lists of healthcare providers; and information about filing Medicare appeals.
A guide to Medicare eligibility
Eligibility for Medicare coverage depends on factors that include your work history, health status, and residency status. Check your eligibility today.
How do I enroll in Medicare?
Learn how and when to enroll in Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medigap, and Part D coverage. Get plan information and a free quote today.
Important Medicare enrollment dates
Enrollment dates for Medicare are critical. Missing an enrollment date could cost you higher premiums down the line — or it could cost you coverage entirely.
Medicare is the federal health insurance program created in 1965 to provide health coverage for Americans aged 65 and older.
The program – administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services – was expanded in 1972 to cover people younger than 65 who have permanent disabilities, including those diagnosed with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). And in 2001, Congress added amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) as a diagnosis that makes a person eligible for Medicare prior to age 65. Approximately 12% of the Medicare population – almost 8 million beneficiaries – are under 65.
More than 64 million Americans are currently covered by Medicare, and funding for the program accounted for more than 4% of the U.S. gross domestic product in 2020. Total Medicare spending stood at about $830 billion that year, and is expected to grow to $1.78 trillion in 2031.
Each part of Medicare is funded differently (see Figure 7 in this resource).
Generally speaking, you are eligible for Medicare if one of the following applies:
In order to get Medicare Part A with no premium, you also need to have paid into the Medicare system. This means that you or your spouse (or a parent, if you’re enrolling as a disabled child) must have worked for at least ten years prior to enrolling in Medicare. If not, you’re still eligible, but will have to pay a premium for Medicare Part A.
The Medicare program is comprised of four main parts: