July 5, 2022


In 2021, 63 million Americans were enrolled in a Medicare plan, taking advantage of the program’s rates, prescription plans, and other benefits. But how did such a widely known and utilized program get started? And how did it become the Medicare we know today? 

A History of Medicare

1965 – On July 30th, 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law what we know today as “Original   Medicare”. This program covered Hospital expenses (Part A) and Medical visits (Part B). 19 million Americans were enrolled in the Medicare program in the first year. But over time, congress passed laws that added more and more people into the medicare program. 

1972- Medicare was expanded to cover those who are under 65 with long-term disabilities as well as those with end stage renal disease (ESRD).

1980- The Omnibus Reconciliation Act brought Medigap Policies (Medicare Supplement Plans) under federal oversight. To this day, Medigap plans are a popular addition to Original Medicare

1997- Bill Clinton signed “Medicare+Choice” into law. These plans were administered through private insurance companies, and approved by the federal government for purchase. Medicare+Choice is now known as Medicare Advantage, or Part C. 

2003- The Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act created the biggest changes in the Medicare program since its creation in 1965. This act allowed private insurance companies to sell Prescription Drug plans (Part D) as either stand-alone plans, or as a benefit included with a Medicare Advantage Plan. 

2010- The Affordable Care Act (ACA) included a long list of Medicare Reforms. A popular effect of the ACA is the closing of the Part D “Donut Hole”, which saves beneficiaries money during the Coverage Gap phase of their Prescription Drug Plan.

As you can see, there have been many changes to the Medicare Program over it’s 56 year history. It’s an ever-changing and adapting industry, and it’s important to be aware of how the changes may affect you. SBS has been helping Medicare Beneficiaries for over 40 years! As a company, we’ve gone through these changes ourselves and guided our clients every step of the way. As we look back on the history of Medicare, it makes us look forward to whatever the future brings. And while the future is unpredictable, we know we will continue to help Medicare beneficiaries for a long time to come. 


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