Medicare was signed into law by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 granting low-cost medical care to Americans over the age of 65. Life expectancy at that time was 70 years on average.
The first persons to receive their Medicare cards were 81 year old President Truman and his wife, Bess. Truman tried to sign a similar bill into law 18 years prior. It took nearly two decades for the idea to resonate with the American public.
Medicare covered hospital care for 2.5 million Americans in the first six months and spent $2.2 billion in the first year. Provisions in the original bill included
- 90 days of hospital care
- 100 days of nursing home care
- 100 home health visits
- Persons over 65 could pay $3 a month for voluntary health insurance plan covering 80% of doctors bills, laboratory tests, and related services
On 01January2011, 45 years later, Medicare was amended to include coverage for preventative services such as cancer, HIV, chronic disease screenings, flu and Hep B vaccines, and nutrition counseling in addition to adding a free annual wellness exam.