Prior to 1965, when Medicare was enacted, only 25 percent of older people had meaningful private insurance. Once Medicare became law, coverage for older people rose to almost 100 percent.
Now, people pay into Medicare while they're working so that those age 65 and above, as well as people with disabilities, can get health coverage. But it's funded mostly by general federal revenues, dedicated Medicare taxes, and premiums from people in Medicare.
Over the last decade, health care and prescription drug costs have continued to grow dramatically. This has not only increased the overall cost of Medicare, but older Americans' share of higher health care costs as well.
Even with Medicare coverage, out-of-pocket health care costs for those on Medicare averages about $4,600 a year—and that's without factoring in long-term care costs, which can be in the tens of thousands of dollars per year. Many seniors simply can't afford it.
Make Your Voice Heard
You may not be eligible for Medicare now, but chances are you will be in the future. That's why AARP® is taking the Medicare debate out from behind closed doors in Washington and giving you a voice. The next president and Congress may determine the future of this program, and we need to make them understand:
- You have paid into Medicare; you've earned the coverage and benefits.
- You have a right to speak up about how to protect and strengthen Medicare for current and future generations.
- Help paying for hospital bills
- Help paying for doctor bills, as well as prescription medicines for those who choose to buy additional coverage
- The option to choose between a traditional fee-for-service plan (which allows you to select any doctor) or Medicare Advantage, a private insurance option that functions like an HMO or PPO
Medicare Doesn't Cover:
- Long-term nursing home care or routine assistance with daily activities at home
- Dental, hearing, and vision care