On July 30th, 1965 President Johnson signed Medicare into law. In doing so he created a national health insurance program for the middle class elderly. The visionary for the program, Harry S. Truman, became the first enrollee of the program. There is much discussion and debate over the Medicare system, how it is implemented, whether or not it is sustainable, and if it is making any kind of real positive impact. What is largely lost in the modern Medicare debate is the original purpose and intent of the program in the eyes of its creators. Truman imagined the program as a way of giving the middle class access to medical care, yes. But by his own words, and from the viewpoint of the mid-20th century, access to medical care was not primarily for the purpose of receiving treatment, at that time people still considered medical care to be a means of prevention first, then treatment. I think that it is important to consider the fundamental changes in the American mindset around health, treatment, prescription medications, and prevention that have taken place in the last fifty years before entering into any policy discussion related to the health care system. The most important things that we can do in terms of our own health are all related to prevention, it is time to turn our thinking with respect to health and how we care for it.
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