Happy Birthday, Medicare!

48 years ago, President Lyndon Johnson signed the bill that created Medicare.  Ronald Reagan, the American Medical Association, and most Republicans predicted “a thousand years of darkness” when Medicare was implemented.

Medicare is now a very popular program and very few seniors question the need (or requirement) to enroll in Medicare for their health insurance coverage.

Now we have Obamacare, and the same attacks and doomsday predictions are being repeated over and over again – just like the assaults against Medicare.


People on Medicare do not need to pay attention to all the talk about health insurance exchanges.  The mandate to enroll in health insurance is for people under 65.  People over 65 already have Obamacare – it’s called Medicare (except it’s a lot better than Obamacare).

The health care law extends the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by ten years.  From 2010 to 2012, Medicare spending per beneficiary grew at 1.7 percent annually, substantially more slowly than the per capita rate of growth in the economy.  And the health care law helps stop fraud with tougher screening procedures, stronger penalties, and new technology. Over the last four years, the administration’s fraud enforcement efforts have recovered $14.9 billion from fraudsters.  For every dollar spent on health care-related fraud and abuse activities in the last three years the administration has returned $7.90.

The Affordable Care Act added a long list of preventive services to Medicare coverage with no deductibles or co-pays. In 2012 alone, an estimated 34.1 million people benefited from Medicare’s coverage of preventive services with no cost-sharing.  In Arizona, 434,397 individuals with traditional Medicare used one or more free preventive service in 2012.

The Affordable Care Act made changes to Part D drug coverage resulting in significant savings for people with high prescription drug costs. In Arizona, people with Medicare saved nearly $123 million on prescription drugs.  In 2012 65,267 individuals in Arizona saved over $45 million, or an average of $689 per beneficiary.

In 2012, people with Medicare who went into the “donut hole” received a 50 percent discount on covered brand name drugs and 14 percent discount on generic drugs.  And thanks to the health care law, coverage for both brand name and generic drugs will continue to increase over time until the coverage gap is closed.  Nationally, over 6.6 million people with Medicare have saved over $7 billion on drugs since the law’s enactment.  That’s an average savings of $1,061 per beneficiary.  In addition, the average premium for a basic prescription drug plan in 2014 is projected to remain stable for the fourth year in a row, at an estimated $31 per month.


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