Here are some facts that champions of Medicare are either ignorant of or hope you remain ignorant of. They leave the impression that before Medicare (pre-1965), life for "seniors" (hate that term) was unenviable because of lack of access to medical care. Since then, thanks to a government program that really "works," things have turned around.
Leaving aside whether a program with a $37 trillion unfunded liability can be said to be working, look at this:
In 1930 average life expectancy for Americans at age 60 was 74.5 years. (Infant mortality pulls down average life expectancy, hence the measure "at age 60.") In 1960 -- five years before Medicare began -- the average jumped 2.6 years, to 77.1. By 1990 -- 25 years after Medicare began -- it had jumped to 79.7 -- again 2.6 years.
Medicare did not make the upward-sloping life-expectancy curve any steeper!
For historical context, from 1900 to 1960, overall life-expectancy increased 22.4 years, from 47. 3 to 69.7.
I hasten to add that the medical system may be the least important factor in life expectancy, and one must never judge a country's health care by that measure. (Too many other factors -- lifestyle, genetics, culture -- play more important roles.) Nevertheless, it is interesting to know that Medicare did not improve the rate of progress in life expectancy that was occurring before the program started.
(Source: Derived from data presented in Sue A. Blevins, Medicare's Midlife Crisis, Cato Institute, 2001.)