Health Care Fact Sheet

Aug. 1, 2013 - Download PDF Version

What Americans Say

If I didn't have Medicaid, I'd probably be out in the streets.

Vanessa, victim of a major car accident (Florence, SC)

Key Facts

The Major Health Care Programs

Medicare is the health insurance program for elderly and disabled Americans; Medicaid is the health insurance program for low-income Americans; and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) serves children of families who do not qualify for Medicaid. CHIP and Medicaid are jointly funded by the federal government and the states.

High Cost of Health Care

Federal spending for health programs is projected to total $897 billion in fiscal 2013. Health care is the fastest-growing type of federal spending, having risen from 7 percent of the federal budget in 1976 to more than 23 percent today. Controlling health care costs is a central challenge facing our elected officials. Republicans in Congress have proposed downsizing Medicaid in order to reduce health spending, while some Democrats have proposed pay-for-performance health care to drive down costs. Meanwhile early assessments of some provisions of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, suggest that the health reform law is slowing the rise in health care costs – though economists warn that it’s too early to know for certain.

Medicare Is Not Going Bankrupt

Medicare is funded by general tax revenue as well as a trust fund. That trust fund finances Medicare Part A, also known as Hospital Insurance – and that part of the program will run into financial problems in 2026, thus requiring some changes to put it on secure financial footing. Meanwhile other components of Medicare – such as Part B, Medical Insurance, and Part D,  prescription drug benefits – are funded by general tax revenue and thus cannot go bankrupt.

What's Happening Now

Nearly every provision of Obamacare is scheduled to go into full effect by Jan. 1, 2014. That means all Americans will be required to have health insurance or pay a fine. The federal government is expanding Medicaid and offering subsidies to qualifying families to make health insurance more affordable. Meanwhile some lawmakers who oppose Obamacare are pushing for delays or cancellations of Obamacare to prevent it from taking effect in 2014. 

Medicare and Health as Percent of Total Federal Spending (Fiscal Years 1976 - 2013)

What to Ask Your Legislator

How do you propose ensuring the long-term effectiveness of Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP?

For Info on Federal Health Care Spending in Your Own County