• a part of Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society program, was the first federal health insurance program for people 65 and older and some disabled people under 65.
• It was enacted into law by the United States government in 1965 (Title XVIII of the Social Security Act), also known as the Health Insurance for the Aged and Disabled Act, and it became effective July 1, 1966.
• It was never intended to pay 100% of medical bills, but it is the foundation for retirees' protection against heavy medical expensess*. Medicare has "gaps" in coverage, where the beneficiary must pay a portion of medical expenses. There are various covered and noncovered services. Generally, services considered to be routine are not covered under Medicare. There are exceptions which include: flu, pneumococcal and hepatitis B vaccinations, pap smears and mammograms; however, there may be time restrictions to coverage.
• It is administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (formerly the Health Care Financing Administration) which is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, but ultimately controlled by the U.S. Congress.