Medicare: The United States’ First Medical Social Insurance Program

908 words - 4 pages

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines social insurance as, “protection of the individual against economic hazards (as unemployment, old age, or disability) in which the government participates or enforces the participation of employers and affected individuals” (1). The United States government operates several national social insurance programs. Medicare is the United States’ first medical social insurance program. This program was designed to provide health insurance to the elderly and protect them from financial hardship due to illness. A thorough investigation of this program reveals the overall history, financial cost, and the total effect that it has had on the healthcare system.
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This cost has continued to rise exponentially every year since the program was first introduced. The expected cost of Medicare is estimated to reach nine hundred and forty-nine billion dollars by the year 2020 (Medicare 1). All experts agree that this substantial costs growth is not sustainable.
Two factors that have contributed significantly to the rapid rise in the cost of this program are the aging American population and the increase in fraudulent Medicare billing. As the American population continues to age the cost of the Medicare program is destined to increase. Robert Reischauer states, “due to the large baby-boom generation entering retirement and lower-birthrate generations entering employment, population aging is the largest single factor contributing to the cost growth” in this program (1). The large influx of the aging American population into the Medicare plan has also made it more difficult to detect fraudulent Medicare billing. A series of government reports have continued to reveal over the years that fraudulent billing is draining the Medicare system. In 1993, a congressional report examined billing from 21 hospitals nationwide and revealed that “those hospitals alone had overcharged Medicare by more than fifty million dollars” (Medicare Fraud (sidebar) 1). In order for the Medicare program to remain viable for the years to come the United States government will have to continue to address the rapid rise in the cost of this program associated with the aging American population and fraudulent Medicare billing.
The idea of a national healthcare plan and the eventual implementation of the Medicare program have considerably impacted the American healthcare system. This impact has positively and negatively affected the healthcare system. Prior to the establishment of the Medicare program, low income elderly Americans with serious medical conditions were particularly vulnerable to...

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