Medicare and Family Health

Medicare is a U.S. social insurance program that provides health coverage to seniors and disabled persons without a test of need. It is administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. (Canada's national health insurance system is also often referred to as Medicare.) After presenting a brief history of Medicare, this entry describes Medicare's beneficiaries, structure, benefits, and financing and concludes with a discussion of the future of Medicare.


Medicare was created in 1965 to provide coverage for hospital and physician services to people age 65 and over who are eligible for Social Security. Benefits began on July 1, 1966. In 1972, coverage was extended to people under age 65 who have received ...

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