Abstract and Keywords
This chapter examines the origins and history of Medicare in order to illuminate how it evolved into the program that it is today. It first traces Medicare’s complicated history to the United States’ rejection of national health insurance in the twentieth century. It then explores Medicare’s development over the next half-century, including its implementation, the evolution of cost containment policies and benefit changes, and the failure of Medicare to expand into a broader program of univsersal insurance. It also highlights shifts in Medicare politics, with particular emphasis on the emergence of pro-market ideas and partisan conflict. The chapter concludes by outlining lessons that can be learned from Medicare based on its fifty-year history in terms of healthcare policy and politics, as well as Medicare’s future prospects.
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