The History of Medicare: A Few Important Dates

important dates in the history of Medicare

Medicare has a long history of helping older Americans with health insurance. Medicare and Medicaid were was originally created to help those who were completely without insurance. Here are some of the key dates in Medicare’s history:

July 30, 1965 – Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Social Security Amendments of 1965 (H.R. 6675) into law, which leads to the creation of Medicare and Medicaid. Before this time, half of all of those 65 and older were without health insurance. This act, along with the Older Americans Act of 1965, were huge advancements for health care in the U.S.

July 1, 1966 – Medicare coverage begins. More than 19 million people enroll in Medicare.

October 30, 1972 – President Nixon signs the Social Security Amendments of 1972. Medicare is expanded to cover the disabled and people with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Medicare benefits are expanded to include chiropractic services, speech therapy, and physical therapy.

January 1, 1977 – Joe Califano, Secretary of the Department of Health, creates the administration that will become the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

June 9, 1980 – President Carter signs the Social Security Disability Act of 1980, creating Medigap plans.

January 1, 1998 – The website is launched, which includes the Medicare Plan Finder and the Hospital Compare tool.

January 1, 1999 – Medicare launches the toll-free number 1-800-MEDICARE and the Medicare & You handbook.

December 8, 2003 – George W. Bush signs the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA) into law, which:

  • Introduces Medicare Advantage (formerly Medicare+Choice) plans (also called Part C or MA Plans).
  • Starts new Part B premiums for higher-income earners, which go into effect in 2007.
  • Expands Medicare to include optional Part D prescription drug coverage, which goes into effect in 2006.

January 1, 2005 – Medicare begins covering a Welcome to Medicare visit.

January 1, 2006 – The Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit goes into effect.

March 23, 2010 – The Affordable Care Act (ACA):

  • Closes the Medicare Part D coverage gap by 2020.
  • Introduces Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).
  • Starts new income-related premium for Part D coverage.
  • Establishes the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.

January 1, 2011 – Free coverage of preventive services begins, as a result of the Affordable Care Act.

July 30, 2015 – Medicare turns 50 years old.

Related links

5 Free Services Medicare Offers to Take Advantage of Today

Leverage Your “Welcome to Medicare” Visit

A Glossary of Medicare Terms

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