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The A, B, C, Ds of Medicare - Background
The Medicare program began in 1965, after generations of citizens and politicians worked to establish a national health care system for America's older population. This benefit is often referred to as "Original Medicare" or "Part A" and "Part B".
In 1972, Medicare became available to people with disabilities and people with End-Stage Renal Disease (kidney failure).
In 2003, additional legislation was signed to include Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) that replace and cover all of the benefits offered in Original Medicare Part A and Part B. In 2006, prescription drug plans (Part D) also became available. Both plans are offered through private insurance companies and must be approved by Medicare.