Medicare's Midlife Crisis

Medicare's Midlife Crisis

Medicare's Midlife Crisis

Medicare's Midlife Crisis

Excerpt

If you pay taxes, sooner or later your life will be changed by Medicare. When you turn 65, you will have to enroll in Medicare's hospital insurance program or lose the Social Security benefits promised to you during your working life. Once enrolled, you'll be subjected to thousands of pages of Medicare rules and regulations dictating what types of health care are covered and what are not, how long you can stay in the hospital, and whether or not you can receive home care services. If you happen to require home care following a hospital stay, you'll be forced to share psychological, sexual, and financial information with the federal government as part of Medicare's new home-monitoring data collection system.

These and many other facts are not well known about Medicare— one of the world's largest medical programs, which spent more than $221 billion in 2000 and is expected to require $645 billion in federal general revenue subsidies over the next decade (between 2002 and 2011). A Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health poll found that 63 percent of seniors know only a little or nothing about Medicare and efforts to reform it. Seventy-nine percent of individuals under age 65 also admit to knowing very little or nothing about Medicare and the current policy debate.

In addition, many Americans don't know that the program was created as part of a larger plan to create a government-financed national health care system. Incremental steps were taken in 1965 toward that goal, including the establishment of Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B, and Medicaid, the government program for lowincome individuals of all ages.

This book explains how Medicare came about, and clarifies why Congress created three separate government health programs in the 1960s. Most important, it gives the reader an overview of how Medicare affects his or her life today and how it could do so 30 years from now. Using government studies, congressional testimony, academic journals, and other sources, I have compiled important facts and analyses that would be hard to find in any single . . .

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