Medicare is a federal social insurance
program and was introduced in 1965. Its aim is to provide health insurance to older and disabled people. Around 15 percent of all people in the United States were covered by Medicare
in 2011. Unlike Medicaid
, Medicare is not bound to lower incomes or a certain state of poverty. There are, however, a significant number of people that meet the criteria to take part in both programs.
In 2012, almost 51 million people were enrolled in the Medicare program
. Some 42 million of them were beneficiaries for reasons of age, while approximately nine million were beneficiaries due to various disabilities. The U.S. states with the highest percentage of Medicare beneficiaries
among their populations were West Virginia and Maine, where more than a fifth of the population was enrolled. With over five million beneficiaries, California was the state with the highest number of Medicare enrollees
The United States spent
some 560 billion U.S. dollars on the Medicare program in 2011. Since Medicare is divided into several parts, Medicare Part A and Part B were responsible by far for the largest share of spending
. Hospital inpatient services – as included in Part A - were the service type which alone made up more than a quarter of total Medicare spending. In 2009, an average of 4,847 U.S. dollars was spent on hospital care per Medicare enrollee
Medicare, however, has also significant income
, which amounted to some 528 billion U.S. dollars in 2011. It is estimated that almost 80 percent of this income was generated by general revenue and payroll taxes. Other sources of income
are beneficiary premiums, state payments, social security benefit taxations, and interests.
A look into Medicare’s future shows us that total spending is expected grow
to more than one trillion U.S. dollars within the next decade. That would be 4.2 percent of the United States’ gross domestic product, compared to 3.6 percent today. By 2020, about 64 million people are expected to be enrolled