Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson was in town — at the Truman Library in Independence, to sign Medicare and Medicaid into law as amendments to the Social Security Act of 1935.
Former President Harry S. Truman, who in 1945 was the first president to propose national health insurance, was there, too, and enrolled as Medicare’s first beneficiary.
Fifty years later, Medicare still provides health insurance for citizens 65 and older, and Medicaid still covers qualifying low-income citizens. Prescription drug benefits were added to Medicare under a 2003 act.
Some fast facts about the programs, 50 years later, mainly from 2013 figures gathered by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Journal of the American Medical Association:
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Together the programs provide health coverage for 31% of Americans.
They make up 23% of federal spending.
They pay for nearly 40% of U.S. health care spending.
Annual spending growth for Medicare (3.4%) and Medicaid (4.1%) is projected to be lower than private insurance’s cost growth (4.8%) through 2023.
Medicaid covers 1 in 3 children, 2 in 3 nursing home residents, and 1 in 5 Americans under 65.
Among Medicare beneficiaries, 1 in 2 has annual income under $23,500, and 1 in 3 suffers five or more chronic conditions.
A graphic illustrating these facts and others is here.