Medicare is a federal social insurance program and was introduced in 1965. Its aim is to provide health insurance to older and disabled people. In 2015, 16.3 percent of all people in the United States were covered by Medicare. Unlike Medicaid, Medicare is not bound to lower incomes or a certain state of poverty. There are, however, a significant number of people who meet the criteria to participate in both programs.
The United States spent some 640 billion U.S. dollars on the Medicare program in 2015. Since Medicare is divided into several parts, Medicare Part A and Part B combined were responsible for the largest share of spending. Hospital inpatient services – as included in Part A - were the service type which alone made up almost a quarter of total Medicare spending in 2015.
Medicare, however, has also significant income, which amounted to some 630 billion U.S. dollars in 2015. 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 outlays are expected to grow to more than one trillion U.S. dollars within the next six years. That would be 4.3 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 in Medicare.
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