If you think Medicare is a hot potato now, take a look at its difficult birth
Where were you in 1965? If you turned 65 this year, you were 13. You were listening to the new release “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones and “Help” by the Beatles. If you were one of the lucky ones, you saw the Beatles in Shea Stadium. Your mother may have watched the new daytime show Days of Our Lives.
In 1965, the average income was $6,450; the cost of a new house was $13,600, and the cost of a new car was $2,650.
What you probably didn’t know then is that something was born that year that is critical to you now. On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Medicare Bill. The bill was created to provide healthcare insurance for anyone age 65 or older regardless of income or medical history. Enacted under Title XVIII of the Social Security Act, it would go into effect in 1966.
Medicare had a difficult birth
On the day that President Johnson signed the bill into law, he handed the first Medicare membership card to former President Harry Truman. Truman was considered the “daddy” of Medicare. Way back in 1945, he called for a national health insurance program. Legislators weren’t interested. He asked again in 1947 and 1949. No dice.
His successor, President “Ike” Eisenhower held the first White House Conference on Aging, which resulted in the proposal of a healthcare program for Social Security beneficiaries. Nothing happened. President John F. Kennedy headed a committee to create – guess what – a national healthcare program. Finally, in 1964, President Johnson called on Congress to create the program and it finally came into being when he signed it into law in 1965.
It was a long gestation period but the end result has changed the lives of millions of people. Prior to Medicare, people 65 or older – if they didn’t have insurance from their company or private insurance – had no medical insurance at all. Now, everyone is eligible. The program has been tweaked over the years to provide more benefits and is now a lifesaver to its members.
More to come
This is the first in a year-long series of articles created to help you navigate through the often confusing forest of Medicare programs and benefits. Whether you are new this year or an existing member, our goal is to provide you with a resource to help make Medicare work best for you. Keep coming back to our new blog for more great stories, information, and resources.