Medicare was established in 1965 as a federal insurance program to provide access to health care for Americans, age 65 and older, and was later expanded to cover disabled individuals under the age of 65. In 2011, Medicare covered nearly 50 million Americans.
According to an annual report published by the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees, Medicare's hospital insurance (HI) trust fund, which covers Part A benefits such as inpatient hospital services and home health care, will be depleted by 2024. Additionally, the report estimates that Medicare spending will grow from $549.1 billion in 2011 to $1 trillion in 2021.
There is bi-partisan consensus that Medicare is on an unsustainable course and reform is needed, but significant debate remains about which proposals should be implemented.