• 66°

Reflecting on 50 years of Medicare

Anita Bachmann

0730op Anitabachmann

By Anita Bachmann

With Medicare and Medicaid turning 50 today, it is worth asking: how have the programs changed, and how have they changed the country and North Carolina?

The first major change? Easy — size. More than 19 million Americans enrolled in Medicare during its first open enrollment period. Today that number has grown to more than 54 million people, and Medicaid is even larger, with nearly 70 million Americans enrolled.

Among the Americans served by these two programs are nearly 3.6 million here in North Carolina.

And these North Carolinians are likely to get their coverage through a private health plan paid for by Medicare or Medicaid, marking another stark contrast from the programs’ origins.

When Medicare and Medicaid were established, beneficiaries simply signed up and had no further decisions to make about their coverage. Today’s beneficiaries have options. Most can choose from among many private Medicare and Medicaid plans for coverage that’s a good fit for their needs.

The third difference is the breadth of benefits available to beneficiaries. In its earliest days, Medicare coverage was fairly basic — core hospital and doctor services. The gaps in coverage prompted efforts over the years to add new benefits.

Today, both Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries can enjoy comprehensive coverage, including many benefits and services that can help enhance their health and well-being. Most recently, the Affordable Care Act made many preventive care services such as cancer screenings available for no out-of-pocket cost.

As Medicare and Medicaid celebrate their golden anniversary, let’s honor them by doing our part to ensure that the programs are fulfilling their purpose of providing better health and security for Americans.

What can each of us do? If you’re eligible for the programs, take an active role in your health by signing up for coverage, learning about the benefits and services available to you, and working with your health plan and doctors to improve your health.

And if you’re not eligible, think of your friends and loved ones who are, such as your parents and grandparents. Offer to help them navigate through the enrollment process and support them in finding a plan that meets their needs.

And on July 30, take a moment to wish Medicare and Medicaid a happy birthday. They’ve made access to health care possible for our loved ones and neighbors, many of whom would not have been able to afford it otherwise. We can all agree that’s something to celebrate.

Anita Bachmann is the vice president of UnitedHealthcare Community & State in North Carolina. UnitedHealthcare serves nearly 431,000 Medicare beneficiaries in North Carolina.

Comments

Business

County begins accepting restaurant grant applications

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man charged with nine more felony sex offenses

Nation/World

Biden team readies wider economic package after virus relief

Nation/World

Spacewalking astronauts prep station for new solar wings

Nation/World

Cuomo sorry for remarks aide ‘misinterpreted’ as harassment

Nation/World

Trump calls for GOP unity, repeats lies about election loss

Education

Rowan County administers 700 vaccines, with majority going to local educators

Crime

Shoplifting at Walmart presents challenge for Salisbury police

Local

Commissioners will hear details about changes to solar energy policies

Business

After overcoming obstacles, local barber Daniel King earns registered status

Lifestyle

39th annual K12 student exhibitions go virtual

Business

Biz Roundup: Chamber of Commerce to host ‘Salute to Agri-Business’ at March Power in Partnership

Local

Local legislators back bills ranging from new restrictions on sex offenders to Holocaust education

News

After surviving COVID-19 scare, Lois Willard set to celebrate 100th birthday

High School

Carson rolls over South 41-0 as about 600 allowed in to see season opener for both

Education

East Spencer after-school program looks toward opening, nonprofit status

Lifestyle

Frank Ramsey inducted into the NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame

College

Livingstone’s Stoutamire inducted into 2021 CIAA Hall of Fame

Nation/World

J&J’s 1-dose shot cleared, giving US 3rd COVID-19 vaccine

Coronavirus

13 deaths reported in Rowan, county stresses need to receive second dose

Coronavirus

10% of Rowan residents receive first dose; eight COVID-19 deaths reported this week

News

North Carolina State Highway Patrol commander to retire

Education

UNC School of the Arts may go for online learning due to COVID-19 spread

Coronavirus

Greensboro site to administer 3,000 daily vaccine doses starting March 10