Medicare is a federal program that provides health insurance for individuals aged 65 years and above. The program also benefits persons with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and younger people who are disabled. ESRD refers to permanent kidney failure that either requires a transplant or kidney dialysis and is recognized by law in the United States as a disability. Although the program came to fruition on July 30, 1965, under the Social Security Act of president Lyndon Johnson era, it plays a critical role even in the modern health care system of the United States. The program was reported to be serving close to 50 million beneficiaries in 2012. Majority of the Medicare beneficiaries were seniors.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) oversees the provision of this vital program through centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The U.S total federal Medicare spending currently can be estimated to be over half a trillion dollars. Medicare is made up of four parts; A to D, that address a wide array of healthcare issues ranging from medical devices, hospitalization, prescription drugs, to doctor visits and special services. Some people have dual eligibility for both Medicaid and Medicare. In fact, as of 2011, almost 10 million Medicare beneficiaries were also accessing Medicaid services.
Nonetheless, the United States spends more money on healthcare compared to other developed nations. Canada is one of these countries. Canada’s healthcare works like America’s Medicare, but for everyone. Unlike the United States, Canada’s medical care is free of charge and covers everything except dental care, glasses, and drugs (Which most Canadians cover through supplementary insurance). The Canadian government (at the federal level) ensures drugs are cheap through lobbying with pharmaceutical companies.
Canada’s health care system satisfies its population more than the U.S healthcare which has long witnessed massive dissatisfaction and even a crisis. According to the World Health Organization, the U.S recorded the highest percentage (17.8%) of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health than any other country in 2016 while Canada spent far less (10.4%). Perhaps this explains why many critics of the U.S health care deem the Canadian system of universal health care as a superior model which the U.S should follow as an alternative.
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