The History of Medicare in America You Might Not Know


The extremely popular medical coverage program Medicare has a long history in the US, dating back to the 1940s, and being signed into law in 1965. In the modern era, over 60 million Americans rely on Medicare coverage for at least part of their healthcare costs. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services are some of the most frequently-visited medical facilities in the US.

Today, we’re exploring a brief history of the popular medical program, including its origins and how it grew to what it is today.

Earlier Programs and Inspiration

In 1912, President Teddy Roosevelt had a progressive plan for the country that included a national healthcare plan. However, support for a nationalized plan for healthcare didn’t really take root until later. Despite President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s numerous progressive policies in the New Deal, medical coverage wasn’t one of the programs rolled out in the sweeping reforms.

In November 1945, President Truman sent a message to Congress calling for the creation of a national healthcare plan. Truman’s version of the plan would provide coverage for citizens including doctor visits, dental care, nursing services and the like. However, this plan never came to reality, and it would be another 20 years before Medicare as we know it came to be.

Medicare Origins

Despite President John F. Kennedy’s attempts at creating a national healthcare service, it wouldn’t be until after his death that Medicare in its modern form was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Notably, former President Harry Truman and wife Bess Truman were the first two Medicare recipients. The plan was created primarily due to overwhelming public support.

In the intervening years, the extremely popular healthcare plan grew to cover millions of Americans. The program’s cousin, Medicaid, covered Americans with less financial resources. Meanwhile, Medicare remains for people who were over 65.

Medicare Today

Medicare is projected to cover over 60 million people by the end of 2020. By the year 2028, the government expects the program to use roughly 18 percent of the federal government’s budget. However, Medicare spending per capita is expected to go down, as it is projected to grow at a rate of 1.5 percent, versus the rate of 7.5 percent in the first two decades of the 21st century.