Medicare Means Healthier Lives for Millions of Americans
“In the hyper-partisan, budget-slashing environment that drives our Washington debate these days, the impact that Medicare has on the lives of average American families is often overlooked. The truth is Medicare saves lives and money. Without Medicare many more seniors would be impoverished, sicker and dependent on others, including federal, state and local governments. A healthy nation depends on a healthy populace, physically and fiscally. Medicare helps us to achieve the American dream of a stable and independent retirement after working a lifetime to help build the nation’s economy. As we celebrate Medicare’s anniversary, we should pledge to preserve that dream for the future.”…Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO
Medicare – Then and Now
- Before the enactment of Medicare, one-half of older Americans were uninsured and one-third were living in poverty. Today, with access to health care coverage, the poverty rate for seniors is nine percent.
- 52.4 million Americans receive guaranteed health care benefits through the Medicare program regardless of their medical condition or income. This includes: 43.6 million Americans age 65 and above and 8.8 million disabled Americans receiving Social Security benefits. By the time the last of the baby boomers reaches age 65, it is expected that close to 80 million people will be covered through Medicare.
- Over half of Medicare beneficiaries have annual incomes of less than $23,500 and savings of less than $61,400. Forty percent have three or more chronic conditions. Even a minor illness or injury could bankrupt older Americans and their families.
- While health care costs have increased three times faster than wages over the past decade, health care reform has slowed the cost growth in Medicare. The 2014 Trustees Report added an additional 4 years of solvency to the Trust Fund, extending to 2030.
As Medicare approaches a half-century of successfully keeping older Americans healthy, while also curbing costs for seniors and the program itself, Washington should be looking for ways to build on those successes not destroy them through further privatization and cost-shifting.
National Committee advocates and volunteers joined Members of Congress to celebrate Medicare’s anniversary at a Capitol Hill event on the 30th.