Posted by:  Cindy Tolan

We’ve come a long way since Medicare first started covering Americans who were 65 or over on July 1, 1966. Imagine what it took to get everyone enrolled, since half of everyone in that age group had no health insurance at the time. Imagine the relief the new program brought to families all over the country!

On July 1st of this year, the Medicare program will mark the 50th anniversary of coverage for persons 65 and older. The Center for Medicare Advocacy is honoring this accomplishment by counting down to July 1st. It will recount little known facts about the program as well as individual and systemic accomplishments and challenges.


  • In 1966, 19 million people ages 65 or older were enrolled in Medicare – just one year after the program was enacted in 1965.
  • Consider what an accomplishment this was, especially in a world with no internet or social media!
  • In 1973, Medicare began covering people with disabilities – as a result, 2.2 million more people received coverage that year.
  • Medicare hospice coverage was added in 1982 – most people now get some type of hospice care before they die.

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