Reasons to celebrate Medicare’s birthday

Reasons to celebrate Medicare’s birthday

Medicare marked its 54th birthday on July 31. Here are some reasons why to wish it belated best wishes:

  • Medicare guarantees access to healthcare for older adults and people with disabilities. 59 million Americans rely on it for health insurance coverage.

• More than 95 percent of Americans consider Medicare an important program. Nearly 90 percent want federal Medicare spending to stay the same or increase.

• Before Medicare’s enactment in 1965, about 50 percent of adults over age 65 lacked coverage for hospital or surgical care. By 1968, only 5 percent were uninsured.

• Half of all Medicare beneficiaries have annual incomes below $26,200, and one quarter have incomes below $15,250. People of color live on even less. The median income for black beneficiaries is $17,350 per year, and it’s $13,650 for Hispanic beneficiaries.

• Most people with Medicare have little to no savings. In 2016, 50 percent of all people with Medicare had $74,450 or less in savings, 25 percent had less than $14,550, and 8 percent had no savings or were living with debt.

• Baby Boomers need Medicare to retire. In 2035, one-quarter of people with Medicare are expected to have annual incomes of $17,300 or less and less than $27,300 in savings.