Medicare is a federal insurance program for people 65 and older that was established in 1965, regardless of income, health information, or health status. In 1972, the program was expanded to include people under the age of 65 who have a protracted disability. Today, Medicare plays a critical role in providing health and financial stability to 60 million elderly and disabled people. Many medical treatment services, such as hospitalizations, doctor visits, prescription drugs, preventative care, skilled nursing facility and assisted living, and hospice care, are covered by the program. Medicaid accounted for 15% of total federal spending and 20% of the country's total healthcare costs in 2017.
Thus many people over the age of 65 are obligated to Medicare Part A if they or their spouse are eligible for Federal payments, and they do not have to pay a premium for Part A if they have paid tax payments for ten years or more. People under the age of 65 who start receiving Long Term Disability Insurance (SSDI) payments typically have a two-year waiting period before becoming eligible for Medicare, whereas those diagnosed with edge renal disease (ESRD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) have no wait time.
Characteristics of People on Medicare
Many Medicare beneficiaries have health issues, such as multiple chronic conditions and constrictions in their daily activities, and many live on low incomes. In 2016, nearly one-third (32%) of the population had a functional impairment; one-quarter (25%) mentioned those who are in fair or poor health, and even more than one-fifth (22%) had five or more chronic conditions. More than one-seventh of beneficiaries (15%) were under the age of 65 and had a long-term disability, while 12% were 85 or older. A long-term care facility housed nearly two million beneficiaries (3 percent). In 2016, half of any Medicare beneficiaries had incomes of less than $26,200 per person and savings of less than $74,450.
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