Medicare is a program that serves the 65 and over population plus includes people with disabilities. The program was established to help the aging population who experience more health costs at a time in their lives where they have a declining income.
1 The program has changed since its inception and is facing challenges. Providing affordable health care is still an issue although there has been some progress since the development of the Affordable Care Act. Specifically, there is concern around prescription drug spending.2 In the next 40+ years the 65 and older age group will double to about 84 million people. Medicare spending goes up disproportionately for seniors who are 80 years old and up. The number of people reaching that age group in the next 40 years will be about 31 million, triple the current number, which means that spending will increase.3
It is good policy to make sure that all Americans have access to healthcare but it is important that when dealing with specific populations, such as Medicare does with senior citizens and disabled persons, that cost is a key consideration. These populations are severely limited on income and are too often deciding between medications and food or housing etc. I think that Medicare could better serve for this population.
1. Social Security History. Social Security Administration Website. https://www.ssa.gov/history/ssa/lbjmedicare1.html. Accessed April 6, 2017.
2. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. An Overview of Medicare. KFF.org. http://kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/an-overview-of-medicare/ Published April 1, 2016. Accessed April 7, 2017.
3. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. 10 Essential Facts About Medicare’s Financial Outlook. KFF.org. http://kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/10-essential-facts-about-medicares-financial-outlook/ Published February 2, 2017. Accessed April 7, 2017.
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