Instituted in 1965, Medicare is a federal health insurance program and financial security primarily intended for individuals age 65 and above as well as for younger people with permanent disabilities. Currently it covers some 44 million Americans, 37 million elders and seven million disabled persons who are under 65. The insurance helps pay various health procedures such as hospitalization, doctor’s services, and drug prescriptions.
Eligibility for the social program requires individuals to be a citizen of the United States, 65 years old or older who is qualified for Social Security, has permanent physical disability even though younger than 65 and has received disability insurance payments from the Social Security for no less than two years, undergoing dialysis for permanent kidney failure or needing a kidney transplant, and has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS-Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Medicare caters to varied types of people in society playing a vital role in safeguarding the wellbeing of its beneficiaries through various health services. It is an important source of health insurance for millions of Americans who can access reliable health care. For 42 years, Medicare has served its purpose in changing lives. Through the years, it has evolved to expand its coverage and adopt new technologies to better serve the country. Its first impact was the reduction of mortality rate among the elders who are vulnerable to different types of illnesses.
Knowing the critical needs of the disabled, the program extended in 1972 insurance to members of society with permanent disability irregardless of age and to those with end-stage renal disease. In 2001, the program included persons with Lou Gehrig’s disease in its coverage as well as those with kidney problems. Medicare likewise added new services from its existing hospital and medical insurance with Medicare Advantage (compensates beneficiaries enrolled in private plans) and Drug Prescription Insurance (pays for drugs’ cost given by private drug plans).
All these changes are designed to meet the demands of the growing population for basic and long-term quality health care. In addition, many operations of Medicare both administratively and clinically have been integrated with information technology to avoid medical errors as well as to make the delivery of health services more efficient and effective. With the new technology like the internet, patients can conveniently set appointments or consult their doctors online.
The Electronic Health Records contain the medical history of patients including diagnosis and prescriptions ensuring proper treatment reducing the possibility of mistreatment. Medicare faces many challenges in the future. The program is encountering financial problems due to high cost. Last year, it accounted for 14 percent of federal spending totaling $374 billion and is expected to reach $524 billion by 2011. Adding to the crisis is the increasing number of elderly beneficiaries.
Between 2010 and 2030, about 78 million Americans will retire, nearly doubling the number of people who receive Medicare benefits. This will create a situation that demands action (Wilensky 7). With this scenario, it seems Medicare would lack funding as government expenditures on health care grows each year. There is indeed a necessity to implement reforms in the program that will require new legislations and restructuring of its services to better suit today’s needs. In the past funding Medicare was quite affordable since there were fewer recipients and options for medical treatment were limited.
However, now the situation has become more complex as beneficiaries multiply and medical cares are many. No matter what the outcome Medicare will definitely stay as it has already become part of American culture and its services for life-saving are too valuable to ignore. No leaders of this country will allow this program to go bankrupt. The sound program only requires some adjustments to the system to make it more effective in accomplishing its mission. References Wilensky, Gail R. PhD. Time to Bring Medicare Into the 21st Century.
The Future of Medicare: A Discussion Forum about Medicare Reform and Growth. Managed Care. Volume 12, No. 9 September 2003. 25 July 2007. http://www. managedcaremag. com/supplements/0309_medicare_future/0309. medicare_future. pdf Kaiser, Henry J. Medicare: A Primer. The Kaiser Family Foundation. March 2007. 25 July 2007. http://www. kff. org/medicare/upload/7615. pdf Kaiser, Henry J. Talking About Medicare and Health Coverage. The Kaiser Family Foundation. February 2007. 25 July 2007. http://www. kff. org/medicare/7067/upload/7067Full. pdf