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U.S. Census Bureau History: Social Security Act Amendments of 1965

Social Security advertising for Medicare
One year after the Social Security Act Amendments became law,
approximately 19 million people 65 and older enrolled in Medicare
and nearly 4 million had enrolled in Medicaid.

July 30 marks the 50th anniversary of the Social Security Act Amendments of 1965. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the bill into law during a ceremony held at the Truman Presidential Library with Harry S. Truman at his side. Johnson requested Truman to accompany him at the ceremony in recognition of the former president's earlier, but failed attempts to pass similar legislation in the 1950s.

The amendments, Public Law 89-87, established government health insurance programs for people 65 and older (Medicare) and the poor (Medicaid). Funded by a tax on employee earnings with matching employer contributions, the new programs proved so popular that within a year, 20 million Americans were receiving Medicare- or Medicaid-funded health care. Today, the programs assist more than 130 million poor, disabled, and senior Americans meet their health care needs.

  • When President Harry S. Truman proposed adding health insurance for the elderly and poor to Social Security in the 1950s, the U.S. population was 151,325,798 and the population 65 and older was 12,239,537. When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Amendments Act of 1965 into law, the U.S. population was estimated to have been 193,818,000 and the population 65 and older had grown to 18,156,000. In 2013, 14.1 percent of the nation's population (approximately 44.6 million) was 65 or older.
  • One year after President Johnson signed the Social Security Act Amendments of 1965, 19,082,454 people, 65 or older, had enrolled in Medicare. In 1973, the program expanded to include disabled beneficiaries. By 2013, 42,471,527 people, 65 and older, and 9,783,635 people with disabilities were enrolled in Medicare.
  • In 1966, approximately 4 million people were enrolled in Medicaid. In May 2015, the Department for Health and Human Services reported that as of February, 70,515,716 individuals were enrolled in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.
  • In 1965, there were 7,123 hospitals, 305,115 physicians, 1,200,000 nurses, and 109,301 dentists in the United States. Although the number of hospitals decreased to 5,795 by 2009, the number of medical professionals had grown to included 838,453 physicians, 2,583,770 nurses, and 164,000 dentists.
  • In 2009, 15.6 percent of the U.S. population (approximately 47,469,000 people) received Medicaid benefits. Of these, 45.7 percent had household incomes below the poverty level. Nearly 73 percent of Medicaid recipients living below the poverty level were children younger than 18 years of age.
  • In 1940, health-related federal spending totaled $48 million. One year after the passage of the Social Security Act Amendments of 1965, health spending grew to $2.5 billion. As of March 2015, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the federal government will spend approximately $870 billion on Medicare and Medicaid.

President Johnson signs social security act amendments of 1965

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Social Security Act Amendments of 1965 into law on
July 30, 1965, with Harry S. Truman (seated right) at his side.

Photo courtesy of the Social Security Administration.

Historic census records from 1790 to 1940 are maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration, not the U.S. Census Bureau.

Visit the National Archives Website to access 1940 Census records

Online subscription services are available to access the 1790—1940 census records. Contact your local library to inquire if it has subscribed to one of these services.

Did You Know?

On July 10, 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt named Census Bureau director Simon N.D. North as the Department of Commerce and Labor's representative to a panel tasked with developing regulations for the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.

Simon Newton Dexter North

The 1906 Act, inspired by Upton Sinclair's account of the meat packing industry in The Jungle, established regulations to protect America's food supply. The rules developed by Director North's panel protected consumers from adulterated or mislabeled food and drugs and directed the U.S. Bureau of Chemistry (the Food and Drug Administration today) to establish inspection protocols and prosecute offenders.

Famous and Infamous Census Records

The census collects data from everyone living in the United States, including politicians, authors, scientists, civil rights leaders, and athletes. Learn how these and other notable Americans responded to the 1790 to 1940 censuses at our Famous and Infamous Census Records page!

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Census History Staff | Last Revised: July 20, 2015