• covers 45 million Americans           65 or older and younger people with permanent disabilities
  • Circa 1/2 of  beneficiaries live at or below 200% of poverty level                        
  • >1/3 of the beneficiaries are afflicted with 3 or more chronic conditions
  • In 2009, Medicare cost the federal government about $480 billion, or
    • 1/5 of total national health spending on personal health care
    • 13 % of the federal budget 
    • 3.5 percent of the country's gross domestic product 
Excerpts from New York Times's Economix blog, Uwe Reinhardt, an economics professor at Princeton, summarized the program like this [September 25, 2009 New York Times]