What is Medicare?

Medicare was created in 1965 when people over 65 found it virtually impossible to get private health insurance coverage. Medicare has made access to health care a universal right for Americans once they reach age 65. This has helped improve the health and longevity of older Americans.


Related Legislation

Social Secruity

Social Security Amendments of 1965 (PL 89-97)

  • Established Medicare Benefits
  • Enacted July 30, 1965

Social Security Amendments of 1972 (PL 92-603)

  • Expanded coverage to include individuals under the age of 65 with long-term disabilities and individuals with end-stage renal disease
  • Enacted October 30, 1972
Additional Legislation

Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1980

  • Expanded home health services and brought Medigap - or Medicare supplement insurance - under federal oversight.
  • Enacted July 21, 1980

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA)

  • Amended the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to give some employees the ability to continue health insurance coverage after leaving employment
  • Enacted April 7, 1986

Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988 (PL 100-360)

Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act (PL 108-173)

  • Added an optional prescription drug benefit known as Part D, which is provided only by private insurers.
  • Enacted December 8, 2003

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010

  • Reform provisions intended to contain Medicare costs while increasing revenue, improving and streamlining its delivery systems, and increasing services to the program.
  • Enacted March 23, 2010