Medicare news and information.
Medicare is a social insurance program administered by the United States government, providing health insurance coverage to people who are aged 65 and over, or who meet other special criteria. Medicare operates similar to a single-payer health care system.
The program also funds residency training programs for the vast majority of physicians in the United States.
The Social Security Act of 1965 was signed into law on July 30, 1965, by President Lyndon B. Johnson as amendments to existing Social Security legislation. At the bill-signing ceremony, Johnson enrolled former President Harry S. Truman as the first Medicare beneficiary and presented him with the first Medicare card, and Truman's wife Bess, the second.
In general, all persons 65 years of age or older who have been legal residents of the United States for at least 5 years are eligible for Medicare. People with disabilities under 65 may also be eligible if they receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Specific medical conditions may also help people become eligible to enroll in Medicare.
People qualify for Medicare coverage, and Medicare Part A premiums are entirely waived, if the following circumstances apply:
They are 65 years or older and U.S. citizens or have been permanent legal residents for 5 continuous years, and they or their spouse has paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years.
They are under 65, disabled, and have been receiving either Social Security SSDI benefits or Railroad Retirement Board disability benefits; they must receive one of these benefits for at least 24 months from date of entitlement (first disability payment) before becoming eligible to enroll in Medicare.
They get continuing dialysis for end stage renal disease or need a kidney transplant.
They are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance and have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease).
Those that are 65 and older, but neither they nor their spouse payed Medicare taxes for 10 years (40 quarters) must pay a monthly premium to remain enrolled in Medicare.
People with disabilities who receive SSDI are only eligible for Medicare while they continue to receive SSDI payments; they lose eligibility for Medicare based on disability if they stop receiving SSDI. The 24 month exclusion means that people who become disabled must wait 2 years before receiving government medical insurance, unless they have one of the listed diseases or they are eligible for Medicaid.
Many beneficiaries are dual-eligible. This means they qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. In some states for those making below a certain income, Medicaid will pay the beneficiaries' Part B premium for them (most beneficiaries have worked long enough and have no Part A premium), and also pay for any drugs that are not covered by Part D.
In 2008, Medicare provided health care coverage for 45 million Americans. Enrollment is expected to reach 78 million by 2030, when the baby-boom generation is fully enrolled.