Medicare is a governmental health program meant to ensure that a certain social group can never be denied affordable health care. The program is offered in Canada, Australia, and the United States. In the United States, Medicare benefits are extended to those citizens having reached or exceeded the age of 65. Other candidates include those under 65 who are permanently disabled with a physical detriment or a debilitating congenital disability. In general, the plan works by paying for 80% of the Medicare approved cost of any given health care cost, often including tests, office visits and certain prescription drugs. The remaining 20% is then paid either out of pocket by the Medicare patient or by a supplemental insurance plan obtained and paid for by the patient.
Medicare was established in the United States in 1965. Before that time just 51% of citizens over age 65 had medical benefits and more than 30% of that group lived at or below the poverty level.