Medicare is an important source of health-care coverage for almost all Americans aged 65 and over. It can also be one of the most confusing subjects with which citizens must contend. Among the first books to examine the impact of the 2010 health-care reforms on the program, Medicare reviews Medicare's history, explores its current coverages and problems, and takes a look at its probable future.

Readers will learn about attempts to pass Medicare legislation, as well as about many of the important changes that have occurred since 1965. They will read about continuing cost concerns over the years and about modifications in both hospital and physician payment approaches. Critically for today's readers, the book examines current issues, such as drug coverage, HMO/managed care options, long-term-care coverage, the demographic-based funding crisis, Medicaid, and the impact of recent health-care reforms. The goal throughout is to help consumers understand Medicare so we can insure that the program remains strong.


Medicare is the best-known federally funded program that provides health insurance to large numbers of Americans. Medicare was passed in 1965 and has become one of the best-known programs of the U.S. government, along with Social Security, that provides income support for the elderly. For those age 65 and over, the Social Security legislation, which passed in the 1930s during the Great Depression and impacted a large number of U.S. citizens in the 1940s through 1960s, is one of the most used and discussed federal programs. The same is true for Medicare which provides health care insurance to pay for the health care services of most U.S. elderly, as well as to some disabled people in the United States.

For many U.S. citizens, as they turn 65, one of their most important actions to secure their future access to health care is to apply for their Medicare card, just as applying for Social Security benefits is also an important step towards securing their economic future. In most major U.S. political campaigns since 1965, the continuance of both Medicare and Social Security is seen as essential to secure the votes of the elderly. This holds true for the votes of many younger U.S. citizens, since many have parents or other older relatives who rely upon these programs for their basic economic support and access to health care.

How did Medicare become such an important and large program, and how well has it worked in the past for its beneficiaries? What are the current problems and issues that need to be resolved for Medicare to continue its important role in meeting the health care needs of the elderly? These are some of the questions to be addressed in this book. The above description might convince you that there is a broad consensus about the importance of Medicare in our country, and that is what led to the initial . . .

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