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What ‘Medicare for All’ Means for U.S. Health Care: QuickTake

Senator Bernie Sanders And Democratic Senate Co-Sponsors Introduce Medicare For All Bill
Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
Updated on

Through Medicare, the U.S. health-insurance program created in 1965 to help older Americans afford their medical bills, the government helps one in five citizens pay for doctor visits, blood tests, prescription drugs, stays in hospitals or nursing facilities, and hospice care. Why not offer those benefits to everybody? “Medicare for All” has emerged as a rallying cry among so-called progressive Democrats and has split the field of prospective challengers to President Donald Trump’s re-election, some of whom prefer what’s called a “public option” instead.

About 86% of Medicare’s 61 million members are eligible because of their age -- 65 or older. The rest participate because they have permanent disabilities. Beneficiaries are responsible for paying part of their health-care costs out of pocket, and most have some type of additional coverage to help with those costs and services that aren’t covered, such as long-term care, dental and vision treatment, and hearing aids.