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History of Medicare

Looking back at the Medicare program

The federal Medicare program has changed the lives of millions of Americans. But the roots of Medicare go back to our nation's early efforts to achieve health coverage for its elderly and poor citizens.

It's hard to believe, but the gradual evolution of the plans Humana offers today began more than a hundred years ago.


The first U.S. workmen's compensation law enacted (later declared unconstitutional)


Thirty states enacted the first major legislation to require employers to insure their workers against industrial accidents—or workmen's compensation


The first federal government health insurance bill introduced in Congress


President Harry S. Truman became the first sitting president to officially endorse national health insurance


President John F. Kennedy sent a message to Congress recommending health insurance for the elderly under Social Security


President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare into law


Medicare eligibility extended to people with disabilities and to people with end-stage renal disease (ESRD)


HMOs began to be offered as a Medicare option effective with the HMO Act of 1976


The diagnosis-related group (DRG) prospective payment system began—soon after, Medicare members could enroll in an HMO or managed care plan


The Medicare+Choice program (now known as Medicare Advantage) was enacted


President George W. Bush signed the "Medicare Modernization Act" into law


The voluntary Part D outpatient prescription drug benefit becomes available to beneficiaries from private drug plans and Medicare Advantage Plans

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