From Time Goes By: (click for full article)
Forty-seven years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation creating Medicare. Former President Harry Truman attended the signing and became the first person to sign up for the program.
In case you ever wondered, here is what life was like for elders before Medicare according to a Bulletin [pdf] published by the Social Security Administration in 1962, three years before the coming of Medicare.
“At the end of 1962...about 50 percent of the aged population had no health insurance of any kind.”
“Those aged persons most in need of health insurance are the least likely to have it – persons in poor health, the very old, those not employed, and those with low incomes.”
Today, more than 99 percent of elders are covered by Medicare and the poverty rate among elders has dropped from 35.2 percent in 1959 to 8.9 percent in 2009, although the drop is mostly attributable to changes to Social Security and only somewhat to Medicare.