Medicare - Statistics & Facts

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 2017, 17.2 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.

In 2017, over 58 million people were enrolled in the Medicare program. Nearly 50 million of them were beneficiaries for reasons of age, while the rest 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 over 23 percent of the population was enrolled. With over 5.8 million, California was the state with the highest number of Medicare beneficiaries.

The United States spent some 707 billion U.S. dollars on the Medicare program in 2017. 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 - are the service type which makes up the largest single part of total Medicare spending.

Medicare, however, has also significant income, which amounted to some 721 billion U.S. dollars in 2017. 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 until 2023. That would be 4.2 percent of the United States’ gross domestic product, compared to 3.5 percent in 2018. By 2020, more than 63 million people are expected to be enrolled in Medicare.

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