Medicare is a national social insurance program, administered by the U.S. federal government, that guarantees access to health insurance for Americans ages 65 and older and younger people with disabilities as well as people with end stage renal disease. Medicare offers all enrollees a defined benefit. Hospital care is covered under Part A and outpatient medical services are covered under Part B. Medicare Part D covers outpatient prescription drugs. According to the 2012 Medicare Annual Report, the Trustees project that Medicare costs will grow substantially until Trust fund exhaustion occurs in 2024. This model is obviously in need of urgent repair.
Retooling Medicare
Pros and cons of current proposals to change it
from AARP

Politicians are eyeing Medicare as a spending program ripe for cuts to help reduce the nation's deficit. And so it follows that the future of Medicare looms as a key battleground issue in the 2012 general election. But proposals to change the popular program tend to alarm older Americans, who see Medicare as part of their retirement security. And these same older Americans vote in large numbers. ... all candidates claim that they want to "save" Medicare for future generations — but often in very different ways.

Proposed changes to the program include raising the eligibility age to 67, raising payroll taxes and requiring better-off beneficiaries to pay more.

Polls show that most Americans prefer to keep Medicare as it is. But, whoever gains the upper political hand in November, he adds, will have to wrestle with the budget deficit — and some of those decisions will likely affect Medicare.

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