What is Medicare?

Published by Steve Hedberg on May 15, 2008 Under Medicare

Medicare is a heath insurance plan that is run by the federal government and is in part funded by income taxes. Medicare provides health insurance to American citizens that are over the age of 65, have specific disabilities, or suffer from acute renal problems.

In 1935 the Social Security Act was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was passed in part as a reaction to the Great Depression and was aimed at limiting the effects of things, such as old age and poverty on the American public. Medicare is an amendment to the Social Security Act that was passed in 1965.

Medicare covers many different types of medical costs. This includes things like durable medical equipment, doctors visits, and hospital stays. Traditionally prescription drugs were not covered under Medicare, but a recent change now provides for prescription drug coverage.

It is also possible to use private insurance plans in place of the federally administered programs. These plans are administered by private insurance companies, but must follow strict federally mandated guidelines. These plans are allowed some leanancy though, and are allowed to pick and choose how they provide their insurance. For instance, depending on the plan, hospital stays may cost less then traditional Medicare, but durable medical equipment might cost more.

There are currently over 40 million Americans on Medicare and the number of people on Medicare is expected to double in the next 10 years. 17% of the people on Medicare are also on Medicaid.

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