Medicare is our country’s federal health insurance program for people age 65 and older, as well as some younger people with disabilities, or any age with end-stage kidney disease. Here’s a closer look at some of its history, facts and enrollment details.

The history of Medicare

On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the bill that led to Medicare and Medicaid.1 The original Medicare program included Part A (hospital coverage) and Part B (medical coverage), which are called “Original Medicare” today.2

Other important milestones include:3

  • 1966 – Medicare was implemented and more than 19 million individuals enrolled by July 1.
  • 1972 – Medicare eligibility was extended to individuals under age 65 with long-term disabilities and to individuals with ESRD.
  • 1980 – Medicare Supplement insurance, also called “Medigap,” was brought under federal oversight.
  • 2001 – The Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) was renamed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
  • 2003 – The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act (MMA) made the most significant changes to Medicare since the program began, including a new, optional, outpatient prescription drug benefit.
  • 2010 – The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as the Affordable Care Act, was signed into law and prohibited health insurance companies from denying or charging more for coverage based on an individual’s health status.
  • 2013 – The Health Insurance Marketplace opened and Americans were able to shop for health coverage without being denied or charged more because of a preexisting condition.

Facts about Medicare

Check out these useful and interesting Medicare facts:

  • There are 4 parts to Medicare – Parts A, B, C and D.
  • As of 2020, over 67 million people are enrolled in Medicare.4
  • 10,000 baby boomers become eligible for Medicare each day.5
  • By 2030, all baby boomers will be eligible for Medicare.6

How to enroll in Medicare

Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B are available to people:

  • Age 65 or older
  • Younger than 65 with a qualifying disability
  • With ESRD, permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant

There are certain times you can enroll in Medicare. To find out if you’re eligible and calculate your Part B premium, use the eligibility tool, opens new window. If you are eligible and need more information, try these tips on signing up for Medicare for the first time.

Insurance for your health and financial wellness

Medicare has transformed the nation’s healthcare system over the past 5 decades. To learn more, explore these 10 frequently asked questions about Medicare plans.


  1. “CMS’ Program History,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, last accessed August 12, 2020,, opens new window.
  2. “CMS’ Program History.”
  3. “Medicare & Medicaid Milestones, 1937–2015,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, last accessed August 12, 2020,, opens new window.
  4. “A Dozen Facts about Medicare Advantage in 2020,” Kaiser Family Foundation, last accessed August 12, 2020,, opens new window.
  5. “2020 Census Will Help Policymakers Prepare for the Incoming Wave of Aging Boomers,” United States Census Bureau, last accessed August 12, 2020,, opens new window.
  6. “2020 Census Will Help Policymakers Prepare for the Incoming Wave of Aging Boomers.”

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